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Father Byles’ Commentary on 2 Corinthians 1:1-7

Posted by Dim Bulb on July 16, 2020

Father Thomas R. D. Byles (1870–1912) was educated at Leamington College, Rossall School, and Oxford. Following his bachelor’s, he converted to Catholicism and studied at Beda College in Rome. Ordained in 1902, he died aboard the Titanic while helping many third-class passengers board life boats. See here for more. 

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: 

an apostle of JESUS CHRIST by the will of God. St. Paul begins by asserting that he had received the office of apostle by God’s will, a fact which had been denied by some of those who were trying to create a schism in the Corinthian Church by denying St. Paul’s apostolic authority. See Introduction, chap. iii. 3.

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

Timothy had recently returned from Corinth, whither he had been sent by St. Paul from Ephesus (Acts 19:22). See Introduction, chap. ii.

our brother. Timothy is called here brother not merely because of the communion of faith, in which sense all the faithful are brethren. Here the expression is more particular and emphatic, and marks out St. Timothy as a sharer in St. Paul’s apostolic labours, though of course he was far inferior to the apostle himself. St. Thomas compares this with the custom observed by the Pope of addressing all bishops as “brethren.”

St. Timothy is united with St. Paul in the salutation only, not in the composition of the Epistle.

Corinth was the metropolis of Achaia, and its Church had been founded by St. Paul himself, who had spent eighteen months there. (See Introduction, iii.) It was the custom for epistles directed to one Church to be read there publicly during the Mass, and then forwarded to neighbouring Churches, which would take copies of them for preservation. In Achaia, however, no other Churches are known to have existed at this time, and the apostle probably refers only to scattered Christians.

saints. The term “saints” is frequently applied in the New Testament to all the faithful—both because they are sanctified in baptism, and also because of the profession of their lives, and the ideal at which they are bound to aim.

God. As God the Father corresponds most naturally to the idea of God as revealed to the Jews, so St. Paul commonly refers only to Him when he uses the name of God. (There are, however, some exceptions, as Rom. 9:5; Tit. 2:13; 3:4.) The divinity of our Lord seems to be here implied, in His being coupled with the Father as the source of grace and peace.

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 God and Father of … God the Father is Father of our Lord in His Divine nature, because of His eternal generation, and “God of our Lord JESUS CHRIST” in His human nature because this owes its being to God as to its Creator and Preserver. For this reason our Lord cried out from the Cross, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” and after His resurrection He said to His disciples, “I ascend to My Father and your Father, to My God and your God.” In His humanity He adored the Divine Father by prayer, and observance of the Jewish law, and by submitting His human will to the will of His Divine Father (cf. Matt. 26:39; John 4:34, 15:10; Rom. 15:3). According to some commentators there is a different meaning in the use of this phrase. As the Jews spoke of the “God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob,” in reference to the revelation of Himself which God had made through those patriarchs to the Jews, so the apostle may here intend to speak of the God who has revealed Himself to Christians through JESUS CHRIST (cf. Eph. 1:3, 17; 1 Pet. 1:3).

Father of mercies may mean only “merciful Father” according to the Hebrew idiom; but more probably, followed as it is by “God of all comfort,” it means that God distributes His mercies amongst men like a good Father.

the God of all comfort. The words translated “comfort,” “comforteth,” “exhortation,” “consolation,” in vv. 3–7, are in Greek the same word, (παρακαλέω, παράκλησις), or from the same root. It is not easy to render it into Latin or English by a single word, but “exhort” is nearer than “comfort” to the meaning of the Greek, which is rather “to call upon” us and “to encourage” us to make efforts, than “to afford us consolation.” It is rendered very well by Bp. McEvilly, “call on us to assume courage.” St. Chrysostom says that to be thus comforted is a greater benefit than not to be allowed to suffer adversity; because it both shows the power of God, and increases the patience of the sufferers.

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. 

that we also may be able … St. Paul, in his humility and his zeal, considers the consolation he receives as given, not for his own merit, but to enable him to help others by sympathy.

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

the sufferings of Christ abound in us. Some commentator suppose that the expression “the sufferings of Christ” means only sufferings endured for the name of Christ: but it is better to interpret it as meaning that the sufferings of the just for the name of Christ belong truly to Christ Himself, who suffers in His members. This truth was the first of the facts of faith which St. Paul learned, when, on his way to Damascus to persecute the Church, our Lord appeared to him saying, “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me?” (Acts 9:4). St. Anselm, following this interpretation, says that hardships which have to be borne are rightly called the sufferings of Christ, because they were first endured by Christ, and then transmitted by Him to His faithful for them to endure. This interpretation also agrees best with the Greek, which means rather abound or overflow “unto us” than “in us,” that is, the sufferings of Christ are passed on to His followers, who have to bear the Cross after Him, or rather with Him, and in Him (cf. Col. 1:24).

by Christ—rather “through Christ.” Christ affords the consolation as God, which He has merited by suffering as man.

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. 

whether we be comforted … The Greek here in the manuscripts which we possess does not quite correspond to our translation. The Greek has only two clauses in place of three. As explained above, the words translated “exhortation” and “consolation” are the same in Greek, and the second clause may be translated thus: “or whether we be (comforted exhorted) it is for your (consolation exhortation) which …” It is probable that this one clause was expanded into two by the translator, so as to more fully express the Greek.

which worketh—that is, your consolation and hope of salvation give you courage to endure with patience. The words may, however, also be rendered, “which is effected by,” i.e., consolation and salvation are the result of the endurance of suffering. The faithful are to be encouraged (1) by the tribulations of the apostle, which ought to inspire them both in enduring their own lighter sufferings and in working out their salvation (cf. Heb. 12:1–6); (2) by his consolations, which enable him better to encourage them, and which lead them to hope for similar consolations if they are patient under suffering.

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. 

partakers of the sufferings: either by undergoing persecutions and hardships themselves, or, more probably, by their sympathy with his sufferings.


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Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on 2 Corinthians Chapter 13

Posted by Dim Bulb on February 3, 2019

Scripture links are to the Douay Rheims translation
In this chapter, the Apostle menaces such among the Corinthians as obstinately persevere in sin with the stern exercise of the Divine power intrusted to him. He says he will proceed juridically against them (2 Cor 13:1-2). He admonishes them, not to test the power of Christ with which he has been gifted (2 Cor 13:3), a power of which they may form some idea from the miraculous manifestations exhibited among them, both by himself and others; with that power he is still gifted; and this they shall know to their cost, if they compel him to exercise it (2 Cor 13:3–6). Far, however, from wishing to display it, he rather wishes that, by their good conduct, they may deprive him of all opportunity of showing it; for, it is not to be displayed against sanctity, but in its defence (2 Cor 13:8-9). He rejoices that they appear strong in virtue, and that from want of opportunity to display power, he himself appears to be weak (2 Cor 13:9). He writes in this menacing manner in order to be spared the pain of punishing them. He exhorts them to practise all Christian virtues, and concludes by invoking on them the Divine benediction (2 Cor 13:10-13).
Text in purple indicates Fr. MacEvilly’s paraphrase of the scripture he is commenting on
2 Cor 13:1. Behold, this is the third time that I have been prepared to come to you. And, when I shall arrive, I shall, in passing sentence on sinners, adhere to the precept of the Mosaic Law, wherein it is enacted, that every accusation or charge shall be determined or ratified by the testimony of two or three witnesses.

“Behold.” This word is not in the Greek. It may have been introduced here from 2 Cor 12:14; it is, however, read in the Alexandrian and other MSS. “This is the third time I am coming to you.” According to some, he is actually coming now a third time. According to others, he is only prepared to come a third time, having been prevented from coming on the second occasion that he purposed doing so—(chap. 12 verse 14).

“In the mouth,” &c. This is founded on the law of Deuteronomy (Deut 19:15), and, although a judicial precept, it has been retained in the Christian law, because founded on natural equity. “Every word,” i.e., every cause, every accusation, “shall stand,” i.e., shall be determined and ratified. This he adds to show the Corinthians that in inflicting punishment, he will not act with precipitancy. Some interpret the words, “two or three witnesses,” as referring to his own two or three visits, in which he himself will bear testimony a third time, which is equivalent to three witnesses against them.

2 Cor 13:2. As I had foretold and menaced when present, so do I now menace, although absent, not only those who had then sinned, but those also who have since then fallen into sin, that if, at my coming, they shall have not reformed and done penance, I will no longer spare them.

He will not now spare them, as on a former occasion, when, through fear of being constrained to punish them, he declined coming to them (chap. 1). After the words “as present,” the words, το δευτερον, a second time, are inserted in the Greek, as if he meant to say, that he was really twice among them; or, he might be regarded as present on the second occasion, because he was present in desire, just as he “was present in mind” when excommunicating the incestuous man.—(1 Cor 5) “And now absent;” after these, the words, γράφω, I write, are inserted in the common Greek text. The sentence may be completed without them as in Paraphrase, and they are not found in the oldest manuscripts.

2 Cor 13:3. Is it, that you wish to test at your cost whether Christ dwells in me or speaks through me? Surely, in your regard he has shown no signs of weakness, he has rather signally manifested his power in you.

“Do you seek?” &c. In the Greek, it is not read interrogatively but affirmatively, επει ζητειτε, whereas ye seek. The meaning, however, is the same as in our Vulgate. “I will not spare;” them (verse 2), because they wish to make a trial, &c. (verse 3). The interrogative form, as in our Vulgate, renders the passage somewhat more impassioned than it is in the Greek. “Is not weak,” as if to say, you need no test of his power; for, it has already been sufficiently displayed in your regard, in your conversion (1 Cor 12:12); in the punishment of unworthy communicants (1 Cor 11:30); in the excommunication of the incestuous man (1 Cor 5)

2 Cor 13:4. For, although he has heretofore in the weak, mortal nature, which he assumed, submitted to be crucified for us, yet, now being resuscitated by the power of God, he lives Immortal and Omnipotent. So is it with us Apostles; like him, we are infirm, but like him we shall also live by the power of God, which we shall display towards you.

“Crucified through weakness,” i.e., in his weak, passible, human nature. “For we also,” &c., i.e., in like manner, we also, like him, our model, are subject to many infirmities; but like him, “we shall live,” and act, “by the power of God,” which we shall display, when necessary, in punishing contumacious sinners, “towards you;” the Vulgate has, in vobis. The words are altogether wanting in the Codex Vaticanus, and not found in St. Chrysostom.

2 Cor 13:5. (Why test our power in Christ?) Test and try yourselves, and see whether you possess the faith which works miracles. Examine yourselves on this point. By such an examination of yourselves, with a view of making an experiment of your faith, will you not easily discover that Christ worketh on you (and still more in me your Apostle), unless, perhaps, that in punishment of your sin, this grace has been withdrawn from you, and you are fallen away from it.

He says they should not seek for a trial of the Divine power residing in him. Let them examine and see whether it does not reside in their own church, on which had been conferred the power of working miracles, and by examining themselves, they shall find it amongst them, unless they have fallen away from it. If they, then, have this power, how much more of it must their Apostle not have? “If you be in faith,” is understood by some, of Theological faith, enlivened by charity—I say, enlivened by charity; because Theological faith, without charity, is no proof of Christ’s presence. It more probably, however, refers to faith of miracles. “Reprobates.” The Greek, αδοκιμοι, means, destitute of this faith and fallen away from it. It by no means refers to Predestination or rejection from it. By saying, “unless, perhaps, you be reprobates,” or deprived of this grace, he indirectly taxes their corrupt morals. The faithful were, at this time, favoured, in many instances, with the gift of miracles. These were certain marks of the presence of Christ in the community or church, in vindication of whose doctrines they were performed.

2 Cor 13:6. But, I hope you will find, that we have not been deprived of that grace, by which the miraculous power of Christ is displayed.

Whatever might be said of their case, be they reprobates from this grace or not, he hopes they will find that he is not destitute of the grace whereby he is enabled to work miracles for the punishment of contumacious sinners.

2 Cor 13:7. (However, far from wishing for an opportunity of displaying this power among you); I, on the contrary, pray God, that you may do no evil deserving of correction. Far from wishing to appear illustrious from the display of the Divine power in the punishment of your sins, I rather desire that you may do everything good, and that we should remain inglorious, apparently destitute of all apostolic authority.

In this verse, he corrects what he said in verse 6, “I trust you shall know,” &c. He prays God, that there may be no occasion or necessity for the manifestation or exercise of this power, so calculated to render him glorious.

What a model of benevolence and humility! The Apostle was traduced and despised as weak, powerless, mean, and contemptible; and though gifted with the power of God, he prefers to appear mean and powerless, rather than appear glorious, through the necessity of exercising this power in punishment of sin. What zeal and love for sanctity! What love for God, and the observance of his holy and immaculate law!

2 Cor 13:8. For our authority can never be exercised against, sanctity, but always in defending and supporting it.

No commentary is offered on this verse beyond the paraphrase.

2 Cor 13:9. Far from wishing to manifest power, we rejoice, when, in the absence of cause for its exercise, we appear infirm, and you are strong in virtue. On this account we not only rejoice, but pray for consummation in sanctity.

He not only rejoices at their advancement in virtue, although by this, he was deprived of an opportunity of displaying the Divine power which dwelt in him, but he also prays for their spiritual progress.

2 Cor 13:10. Therefore, it is, that being absent, I now write in this menacing manner, in order that, when present amongst you, I may not be constrained to exercise, with too much severity, the power which the Lord has confided to me, to be exercised for your advantage, and not for your ruin.

And it is for the same reason, he wrote in this menacing style, that he might thus be spared the pain, when he should come amongst them, of exercising the power which God gave him, &c.—See chapter 2 Cor 10:8.

2 Cor 13:11. For the rest, brethren, rejoice in the Lord, daily strive to become better and better, mutually exhort and encourage each other to advance in perfection. Be of the same mind. Live in concord and unanimity; act peacefully towards one another, and the God of peace and love shall dwell in you by his grace.

“Deal more severely.” The Greek for severely, αποτομως, conveys the idea of lopping off putrid or delinquent members from the body of the church.

2 Cor 13:12. Salute each other with a kiss, the sign of holy love. All the Christians here salute you.

“Salute one another with a holy kiss,” which is a symbol of holy peace and of pure Christian love. “All the saints,” i.e., Christians here at Philippi, “salute you.” The subscriptions of the Greek copies assert, that it was written from Philippi.

2 Cor 13:13. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, who redeemed us with his blood, and the charity of God the Father, the excess of which moved him to give up his Son for the world, and the communication of the Holy Ghost, with whose gifts we are replenished, be with you all. Amen.

Reference is made in this verse to the three persons of the Adorable Trinity.

In some Greek copies we have the following subscription: The Second to the Corinthians was written from Philippi, a city of Macedonia, by Titus and Lucas. The Codex Vaticanus has simply: προς Κορινθιους Β. εγραφη απο Φιλιππων, “The Second to the Corinthians was written from Philippi.”

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Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on 2 Corinthians Chapter 12

Posted by Dim Bulb on February 3, 2019

Scripture links are to the Douay Rheims translation

Having, in the foregoing chapter, shown how much more deserving of commendation he was than were the false teachers, by reason of the labours, and perils, and persecutions he underwent for the Gospel, the Apostle shows in this, how far he excelled them in the sublime gifts and visions with which lie had been favoured by God. He commences by apologizing for publishing God’s favours. He was forced to it from necessity (2 Cor 12:1). He next narrates the circumstances of his being caught up to the third heaven: in what wanner this extraordinary rapture or vision occurred, he cannot say. He speaks of himself in the third person, from a feeling of humility; for, in his own name, he wishes to glory only in his infirmities (2 Cor 12:2-5). He refrains from mentioning any further favours vouchsafed to him from a fear of being regarded as greater than he really is (2 Cor 12:6). He relates how he had been afflicted with the sting of the flesh—“an angel of Satan,” lest he might grow proud, on account of the sublime excellence of the revelations accorded to him; and, although he fervently and repeatedly prayed for its removal, he received an answer that it was not expedient that his petition should be heard, because the power of God is perfected in the triumph of human infirmities; hence, the Apostle prefers glorying in his infirmities, to glorying in God’s favours (2 Cor 12:7–10). He casts the blame of his folly in praising himself on the Corinthians themselves, who should become his defenders and apologists, because among them were exhibited the marks of his Apostleship, and through his ministry they received the greatest favours, with the exception (he adds ironically), of not being burthened with his support; and, if this be an injury, they must excuse him, as he is determined to persist in the same disinterested course (2 Cor 12:11–14), for, he is solicitous for their salvation and not for possessing their means. As their spiritual father, he should, according to the natural course of things, rather provide for his children, than be provided for by them. On this account, he is prepared to give them not only all that he possesses, but even himself (2 Cor 12:15). He refutes any implied or latent insinuation to the effect that he craftily, by means of his disciples, received remuneration in private (2 Cor 12:17-18), He says all he had spoken in his own commendation was for their good (2 Cor 12:19); and finally, expresses his fears, that on his arrival among them, he may be forced to act a part opposed to his feelings—viz., the part of a stern judge, and an unsparing corrector of their vices.

Text in purple indicates Fr. MacEvilly’s paraphrase of the scripture he is commenting on

2 Cor 12:1. If I must glory (although, indeed, this of itself and without necessity, is not expedient), I shall proceed to relate the visions and revelations with which Christ the Lord has favoured me.

“If I must glory,” &c. The common Greek reading is, It is not profitable for me doubtless to glory. The reading of the Codex Vaticanus is, καυχασθαι δει; ου συμφερον μεν must I glory? indead it is not expedient. (“It is not expedient”), unless it be forced upon us by necessity. “I will come to (relate) the visions and revelations of the Lord.” Vision does not suppose that the person favoured with it understands the meaning of what is shown him, as we find in the case of Pharaoh (Gen. 11:17), Nabuchodonozor (Daniel 2:31). “Revelation” superadds to vision, the comprehending of the thing seen. St. Paul was favoured with the knowledge or understanding of the things he saw.

2 Cor 12:2. I know of a certain Christian, who, fourteen years ago, was taken up (whether in the body I know not, or without the body I know not, God alone knows), even to the third or empyrean heaven.

The great humility of the Apostle appears from the preceding verse, in which he gives us to understand, that it is from sheer necessity, and a desire to serve the Corinthians, he feels forced to refer to his heavenly favours at all. The same appears also from his referring to only one out of the many, and this after the lapse of fourteen years. With how many more must he not have been favoured during that period? It is likely he would have kept this also concealed to the end of his life, if edification did not require of him to publish it. His speaking of the occurrence in the third person—although happening to himself (verse 7), also shows the great humility of the Apostle.

When, did this occurrence happen? Most probably, about the eighth year after his conversion, when, with Barnabas, he was sent to preach to Antioch (Acts, 13:2); although others say it occurred during the three days he was at Damascus, immediately alter his conversion. “Neither eating or drinking.”—(Acts, 4).

“Caught up to the third heaven.” The Hebrews distinguished three heavens. The first comprises the air, clouds, and space, as far as the fixed stars; the second, the starry heavens, including the stars and planets, with their orbs; the third, the empyrean or highest heaven, the abode of the Angels and Saints. To this last St. Paul was caught up.

How, was this catching up of the Apostle effected? Was he taken up body and soul, or was his soul taken up without his body? The common opinion of modern Expositors, following St. Thomas, is, that there is question of an ecstasy, in which the soul of the Apostle, remaining united to his body (otherwise he would have been dead during the time), but still abstracted from the senses, was, by Divine power, and independently of phantasy, elevated to a supernatural knowledge of the sublime mysteries of God, as happens to the Angels and Saints in heaven. According to this opinion, the rapture or catching up of St. Paul, was an intellectual, ecstatic one. “Whether in the body,” &c. The doubt in the mind of the Apostle appeared to be, whether he was caught up to heaven, both body and soul together, or in soul only; for, he appears to have no doubt whatever of his being caught up, at least, in soul. Hence, the opinion of others who maintain that he was caught up by a real physical translation, both as to soul and body, appears very probable, and in perfect accordance with the words of the text. St. Paul himself could say nothing for certain on the subject, and, therefore, all knowledge regarding it must be purely conjectural. The Greek for “caught up.” ἁρπαγεντα, evidently signifies real physical motion. That his soul, at least, was translated really, of this the Apostle appears to entertain no doubt, and that his body was not separated from his soul appears exceedingly probable, as he would be otherwise dead, and we are not needlessly to multiply miracles in his resuscitation. It was as easy for God to translate him soul and body, as in soul only; and it would seem congruous, that as the other Apostles conversed with our Lord, so would he also. Peter, James, and John saw his glory on Thabor; Moses, on Sinai; and, most likely, Paul, the doctor of the nations was similarly favoured.

2 Cor 12:3. And I know that this man (whether in the body or out of it, I know not, God alone knows),
2 Cor 12:4. Was caught up into the celestial Paradise, and heard ineffable things, to which human language is incapable of giving expression.

In this there is, most likely, reference made to the same vision, recorded in verse 2, and the Apostle uses the word “Paradise,” to convey an idea of the delights which he enjoyed in this rapture, while the words “third heaven,” give us an idea of the exalted knowledge of divine truths imparted to him. “Paradise,” means a garden of delight and pleasure. “And heard secret words.” He says “heard,” because the understanding of things may be called the seeing and hearing of the soul, and he uses “heard” rather than, saw, because he refers to instruction imparted to him, which “comes through hearing.” “Secret words,” in Greek, ἄῤῥητα ῥηματα, ineffable words, or ineffable things, which human language is incapable of describing. What these things are, it is idle to conjecture, as St. Paul could not explain them. He may refer to the joy of the blessed, of which he says, “neither eye hath seen,” &c.—(1 Cor. chap. 2).

2 Cor 12:5. For such a person thus caught up into heaven, I shall glory; but as for myself, I shall only glory in my infirmities, in which I shall appear vile and abject.

He regards himself, when favoured with these heavenly revelations, as different from himself when subject to human infirmities.

2 Cor 12:6. For even though I should wish to glory in the Divine revelations granted to me, I would not be foolish; for, in relating them, I would tell the truth and act from necessity. But I forbear referring to them, lest any person should consider me deserving of more merit, than the deeds which he sees me perform, or the words he hears me utter, declare me entitled to.

If he were to glory in other favours and revelations conferred on him, he would not be acting foolishly, as he would be acting from necessity, and only stating the truth. He forbears, however, from any reference to them, lest, as happened to him at Lystra, he might be considered greater than his acts or words would warrant them in regarding him. How admirable is the humility of the Apostle: he conceals these heavenly favours for fourteen years; and after that, speaks of them only from necessity, and in the most obscure manner, and at the same time, mentions something tending to his humiliation.

2 Cor 12:7. And least I should chance to grow proud and elated from the sublime excellence of the revelations with which I was favoured, there was given to me a sting in my flesh, a minister of Satan, to buffet me and fill me with shame.

The Greek adds to the end of this verse the words, ἴνα μη ὑπεραιρωμαι, lest I should be elated. What this “sting of my flesh,” or as the Greek has it, σκολοψ τῇ σαρκὶ, “sting in the flesh,” refers to, is a matter much disputed among Commentators. The more probable opinion appears to be, that it refers to carnal concupiscence, the motions of which were excited in the flesh of St. Paul by the devil, whose ministers or instruments they are; being employed by him to extend the kingdom of sin. They were sent by Divine permission, however, in the Apostle’s case, for the purpose of humiliating him, and of causing him shame, by their repeated buffetings. The Greek for “sting,” σκολοψ, signifies either a sharp stake, or a thorn. This was in the “flesh” of St. Paul. It was such a thing as he feels ashamed to express in clearer terms, than simply by calling it “a sting.” It was “an angel or (minister) of Satan.” The effect God intended to produce was, to “buffet” and cause him shame, lest the magnitude of his revelations should puff him up. It was such a thing as St. Paul earnestly and repeatedly prayed to be delivered from. Now, there is nothing else which these different characters appear to designate so clearly as the shameful motions of carnal conscupiscence. St. Paul longed to be delivered from them (Rom. 6), and he warred against them manfully, by chastising his body (1 Cor. 10). What a contrast! St. Paul, enjoying the delights of Paradise, and St. Paul, fighting against the concupiscence of the flesh.

2 Cor 12:8. On account of the trouble and uneasiness it occasioned me, I frequently besought the Lord to rid me of it.

“Thrice.” i.e., frequently. The number, three, expressed an indefinite number among the Jews.

2 Cor 12:9. And he gave me this interior response:—it is not necessary, nor is it expedient for you to be rid of its importunities; since the assistance of my grace is sufficient to preserve you from any injury, that it might cause you; for, my power appears more conspicuous in the triumphs which it brings about, even through the means of human infirmity.

“And he said to me,” interiorly. Here another revelation is insinuated by St. Paul. The power of my grace is sufficient to guard you against all its attacks. These attacks were the occasion of merit for the Apostle, as they were to all who, aided by God’s grace, contend manfully against them; and they were attended with the good effect of preserving them in holy humility, without which his divine revelations might be the source of his damnation. “For power,” in Greek, “my power,” i.e., the power of God—my, is wanting in the chief MSS.—“is made perfect in infirmity,” since by achieving a triumph of strength, through means absolutely weak, the power of God is rendered more conspicious, and its operations more visibly recognised. Similar is the idea conveyed, 1 Ep. chap. 1, “Christ crucified, the power of God.” “That the power of Christ,” triumphing through human weakness, “may dwell in me,” i.e., fix in me its constant and permanent habitation.

2 Cor 12:10. On account, therefore, of these advantages resulting to me from them, I feel delight and complacency in my infirmities—viz., in ignominies, in want of the necessaries of life, in persecutions, in the distressing straits to which I am reduced for Christ; for, when I suffer these infirmities for his sake, it is then I am powerful; then, the triumph of his grace and power in me becomes more conspicuous.

On account of these advantages resulting from my infirmities, I not only patiently endure them, but I also feel complacency and delight in them, looking to their effects. He enumerates the infirmities to which he alludes, namely, the different trials which he was forced to undergo for Christ. “For when I am weak,” i.e., actually enduring these trials, “then I am powerful.” Then it is the power of Christ dwells in me, and more conspicuously manifests itself, as achieving prodigies of strength by means of absolute weakness.

2 Cor 12:11. I am become foolish in thus boasting, and in thus commending myself; but, you forced me to such a course by lending a willing ear to my malingers, against whom I should have been defended and my cause supported by you, as your Apostle. For, with respect to the apostleship, I have not been inferior, I will not say, to these false teachers, but even to the chiefs among the Apostles of Christ, although of myself I am nothing.

“I am become foolish,” to which is added in the Greek, in boasting; these two words are wanting in the chief MSS., and rejected by critics generally. But they themselves are to blame for this folly, as they forced the Apostle to such an apparently foolish course, by lending a willing ear to the false and seductive words of his enemies, when they should have spared him the painful necessity of self-defence, by espousing his cause against misrepresentations. They should have come to his defence, since, although of himself nothing—still, in quality of Apostle, to which dignity he was raised by the grace of God, he was not inferior even to the chiefs among the Apostles of Christ.

2 Cor 12:12. However, the evident marks of my apostleship and true commission have been exhibited amongst you in my patient endurance of all kinds of evils, in the performance of miracles of all sorts, whether they be termed signs, or prodigies, or mighty deeds.

Yet the signs of my apostleship.” In Greek, τὰ μὲν σημεῖα τοῦ ἀποστόλου, yet the signs of the Apostle. Miracles, as well in number, as in magnitude, truly apostolical—truly marks of an apostolic commission—“have been wrought on you;” i.e., by me in your presence. Hence, he is not inferior to the other Apostles. The first mark of an apostolic commission is “patience;” or the patient endurance of all kinds of persecutions and sufferings for the faith. This is the meaning of “patience,” as appears from the Greek word, υπομονη. The next, is the performance of miracles of all kinds, and wrought in various ways. It is difficult to see the difference between the three kinds of miracles—“signs,” “wonders,” “mighty deeds.”

2 Cor 12:13. For, how far, whether in doctrine or miracles, have you been inferior to the churches founded by the other Apostles, with the exception, perhaps, that I have not, like the other Apostles, been a burthen to you by receiving the means of support? If this be an injury, you must excuse me for it, for I must decline all temporal remuneration even for the future.

“Another reason” why he is not inferior to the other Apostles, and why the Corinthians should undertake his defence is, that the church of Corinth, and the other churches founded by him, were not less favoured with true doctrine and miracles, and the several gifts of the Holy Ghost, than were the churches founded by the other Apostles. The only exception being, that the other Apostles received the necessary means of subsistence from the several churches, which they founded; whereas, he received nothing from them. He says, in a tone of irony—“pardon me this injury.” That is to say, if this be an injury, they must pardon it, although he is determined on the same course in future.

2 Cor 12:14. Behold, this is the third time that I have determined on coming to you, and on this occasion I shall not be a burthen to you. For, in the discharge of my ministry, I seek not your substance, but yourselves and your salvation. Since it is not the children that ought to lay up treasures for their parents, but the parents for their children.

“Behold, now this third time I am ready to come to you.” The common Greek, has “the third time.” The Vulgate has, tertio hoc, which is supported by the Codex Vaticanus, τριτον τουτο. It is much controverted, whether the Apostle actually came a third time to Corinth or not. St. Luke mentions only two of his visits to Corinth: the first (Acts, 18); the second, at least implicitly, and indirectly (Acts, 20). Baronius maintains, that he came three times. St. Thomas asserts that he came only twice. He says that on the second occasion, the Apostle was prepared to go, but did not actually go to Corinth. It was for not going on that occasion, that he excuses himself, in the first chapter of this Epistle. It was on the occasion of his second visit, he wrote his Epistle to the Romans.

“For neither ought children to lay up for their parents,” &c. Following the natural order of things, parents, according to the flesh, lay up treasures to provide for their children. But in the spiritual generation, the parents have a right to support from their children, as in the case of the other Apostles.—(1 Ep. chap. 9). St. Paul, to show his great affection for the Corinthians, foregoes his right to support, and imitates the affection, which nature has taught parents according to the flesh, to entertain for their children.

2 Cor 12:15. I, therefore, as your spiritual parent, will, most cheerfully, not only expend all I have, but also myself and my life for your salvation; although, for my ardent love, I receive but a poor, inadequate return of affection at your hands.

He replies to an objection, which his enemies might propose against him—viz., that, although he himself received nothing from them in public; still, he secretly suborned his associates to receive some recompense in private, and thus he was acting a deceitful part.

2 Cor 12:16. But some person may say, granted; your your self receive nothing from us, but being a cunning, crafty man, you privately circumvented us, receiving pay through your associates, who artfully extorted it in secret.
2 Cor 12:17. But have I done so through any of those whom I sent to you?

He denies having done anything of the kind.

2 Cor 12:18. I encouraged Titus to go to you; and with him I associated another brother. Has Titus circumvented you by receiving the smallest sum? Have not he and I shown the same mind in this respect? Have we not walked in the same footsteps?

The reading in the common Greek text for “of old,” is, παλιν, again; thus: do you think that we are again pleading an excuse with you? The meaning of the Vulgate reading, olim, which is supported by the chief MSS., παλαι, is given in the Paraphrase. “We speak before God and in Christ,” i.e., sincerely and undisguisedly. All he has hitherto said in self-commendation had for object, that he might advance their spiritual good, for which, as their loving father, he was so solicitous.

2 Cor 12:19. Heretofore, being seduced by the false teachers, you imagined that we did not act in a straightforward, single-minded manner towards you, and that we say these things now by way of apology. Believe me—and I speak in the presence of God, and in the spirit of Christ, that is to say, with truth and sincerity—that in all things I have said in my own commendation, I have had in view your spiritual edification and salvation.

The reading in the common Greek text for “of old,” is, παλιν, again; thus: do you think that we are again pleading an excuse with you? The meaning of the Vulgate reading, olim, which is supported by the chief MSS., παλαι, is given in the Paraphrase. “We speak before God and in Christ,” i.e., sincerely and undisguisedly. All he has hitherto said in self-commendation had for object, that he might advance their spiritual good, for which, as their loving father, he was so solicitous.

2 Cor 12:20. But I fear much, lest, when I may come to you, as I have resolved upon, I find you not such as I would wish, that is, corrected and free from your vices; and, you in turn may meet in me, not what you would wish to find me to be, a stern judge, instead of a kind father. I fear I may find reigning in the midst of you, the vices animadverted upon in my former Epistle, viz.: contentions, altercations, envyings, animosities, dissensions, detractions, whisperings, swellings, seditions, and the rest.

He shows the cause of his solicitude for them. “Contentions,” verbal wranglings and disputation for mere superiority, without any regard for truth. “Envyings,” the sorrow arising from the spiritual or temporal advantages of their neighbour. “Animosities,” refer to sallies of passionate revenge. “Be among you.” These words were added by the Vulgate translator. They are not in the original Greek reading.

2 Cor 12:21. These things I fear, for this reason, lest when I come to you again, God may humble and contristate me amongst you; and that I may be forced to mourn, and sorrowfully inflict punishment on many who have heretofore sinned, and have not yet done penance for the different sins of uncleanness which they have committed.

“God humble me.” In Greek, ὁ θεός μου; “my God humble me.”

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Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on 2 Corinthians Chapter 11

Posted by Dim Bulb on February 3, 2019

Scripture links are to the Douay Rheims translation

In this chapter, the Apostle from a motive of holy zeal, and the purest necessity, is almost wholly employed in commending himself and his own actions, and depressing the false teachers, the enemies of God and his Holy Church, who, by depreciating the labours of the Apostle, wished to increase their own claims to respect in the minds of the Corinthians. And first, he claims their indulgence and forbearance for his apparent folly in praising himself—a course adopted by him from a holy jealousy which he conceived regarding their souls (2 Cor 11:1).

He explains the nature and cause of this jealousy. He acted the part of paranymph in betrothing them to Christ; and he dreads lest the Devil might corrupt them, as he formerly corrupted the virginal mind of Eve (2 Cor 11:2-3).

He next, reproaches them with their unmerited preference for the false teachers before himself (2 Cor 11:4), and shows, that he had far higher claims to respect than they, although in point of elegance and fluency in the use of the Greek tongue, he may be somewhat inferior to them (2 Cor 11:5-6). He gave the Corinthians no grounds for depreciating his services; on the contrary, his very humiliations were intended to exalt them, and his preaching among them quite disinterested (2 Cor 11:8-9); and he still determined to follow the same disinterested course, in order to deprive the false teachers of every ground for boasting in this respect (2 Cor 11:10, 13).

In the next place, he depicts these deceitful men in their true colours (2 Cor 11:13, 16). He then claims indulgence for the apparent folly of praising himself: he says, however, that he is better entitled to indulgence even in this respect, than the false teachers are, who treat them so contumeliously, and are always engaged in self-commendation (2 Cor 11:20). In a tone of bitter sarcasm, he says, he will adjudge the superiority in favour of the false teachers, both as regards their maltreatment of their followers, and their anxiety to commend themselves (2 Cor 11:21)

He shows how much he is superior to those deceitful men, both as regards their common origin, and the gifts of divine grace, or the Evangelical ministry (2 Cor 11:22-23).

He employs the remainder of the chapter in showing, how much he is superior to them in everything that should distinguish a zealous minister of religion, in bodily labours, sufferings and privations, in mental anxiety, and concern for the spiritual interests and advancement of his people.

Text in purple indicates Fr. MacEvilly’s paraphrase of the scripture he is commenting on

2 Cor 11:1. Would to God you would bear with some little of my folly, while engaged in self-commendation. But as I am forced, in my own defence, into this apparently foolish course; then, bear with me, I beseech you.

“You could bear with some little of my folly.” The Greek of which is, ἀνειχεσθε μου μικρον τι ἀφροσυνης, you would bear with me a little in folly. He terms it “folly;” because, it is generally reputed folly to praise one’s self. “But do bear with me,” as I have good reason for commending myself. I am forced to it in self-defence, and to protect you against the snares and designs of your spiritual enemies.

2 Cor 11:2. For, my folly in thus praising myself proceeds solely from the jealousy which I entertain towards you, on the part of God. For, as a bridesman, or paranymph, I have betrothed your Church to one husband, viz., Christ, and I wish to present her a chaste virgin spouse to him, as the spouse of such a husband should be.

He assigns a reason why they ought to bear with him in his apparent folly, as this folly is occasioned by his zeal for them, and by the jealousy he conceives regarding them, on the part of God. He acted as a paranymph in betrothing their Church to Christ. It was, therefore incumbent on him to deliver over this virgin spouse to Christ, pure and undefiled by any false corrupting doctrines. Hence, the jealous care with which he endeavoured to guard against the approaches of any spiritual adulterers, such as the false teachers prove themselves to be by the dissemination of corrupt doctrines. Every Christian, but especially every religious soul, is in a special manner, the spouse of Jesus Christ. Do we ever seriously reflect on the relations that exist between us and our heavenly Bridegroom? Do we ever make this thought a wall of defence against the assaults of our spiritual enemies, against the force of temptation? Do we look forward to the happy day, when these nuptials shall be consummated in our heavenly country?

2 Cor 11:3. But I dread, lest, as Satan under a serpent’s form seduced Eve, through his crafty wiles, the judgments of your minds would also be corrupted by his ministers, and seduced from that virginal simplicity which you have in Christ.

“The serpent,” i.e., the devil under the form of a serpent, “seduced Eve,” yet a virgin, “by his subtilty,” or crafty wiles. “So your minds should be corrupted and fall from,” &c. The word “fall,” is not in the Greek. It has probably been inserted by the Latin interpreter, to make the meaning more evident. “Simplicity,” refers to their unadulterated faith and morals. It may also convey an allusion to the corruption by the serpent, of Eve, while yet a virgin. Every Christian soul is betrothed to Christ in baptism, and becomes his spouse; a number of souls, or a particular church, as also the Universal Church, form one Spouse of Christ. The virginity of this spouse is pure, unalloyed faith. Her marriage portion, the kingdom of heaven. The nuptials are prepared by faith, hope, and charity in this life, and consummated by vision and fruition in the life to come.

2 Cor 11:4. For, in truth, if any new teacher coming amongst you, were to announce better tidings than those which have been announced by us—another Saviour, and a better one than we have announced—or if you were to receive, through his preaching, other and more excellent spiritual gifts than those imparted by us, or another gospel differing from ours and announcing better promises; you would, with some reason, bear with such a person, and admit his claims to a preference.

He shows how undeserving of preference the false teachers were before himself, since they taught nothing after entering on his labours that he himself had not taught already, nor could they impart any spiritual gift superior to those received through his preaching and ministry. “Preached another Christ.” In Greek, another Jesus.

2 Cor 11:5. (But such is by no means the case), for, neither in works nor in doctrine do I regard myself as inferior I will not say, to the false teachers; but, to the chiefs, among the apostles of Christ.

“Some interpreters say, he refers ironically to the false teachers, whom he calls of the great Apostles,” All the ancient expositors, however, assert, that he refers to the chief among the Apostles of Christ, whom (Gal. 2) he calls “pillars.” With these, St. Paul places himself on a level here, because the glory of God and the good of his people required of him to do so, although (1 Cor 15:9) he speaks of himself in different terms, from a feeling of holy humility.

2 Cor 11:6. For, granting, that in my use of the Greek tongue, I may be rude and inelegant, compared with these false teachers; still, I am by no means their inferior in the knowledge of divine things becoming an Apostle. But in all matters, both in word and work, we act openly and undisguisedly, without reserve or dissimulation with regard to you.

He admits that he was not so perfect a master of the Greek tongue, as the learned orators of Greece or the false teachers. The Greek word for “rude in speech,” ιδιωτης, means, not better versed in it than ordinary persons are. From this passage, it is disputed whether or not St. Paul was really deficient in language. St. Jerome and Origen state, that he was not eloquent, while St. Augustine and St. Chrysostom, on the contrary, assert that he was most eloquent; and it appears, he was regarded as such, at Lystra in Lycaonia (Acts, 14). He might not be gifted with eloquence and fluent facility in the use of the Greek tongue, which was borrowed from Pagan rhetoric; nor did he write Greek, probably, with the elegance of Demosthenes and others, or even of the false teachers; but, he was gifted with eloquence of a higher order—bold and masculine—which made Festus tremble on his throne, and made St. Augustine wish, among the four things he longed to see, to behold Paid preaching. “But in all things,” &c. In this he rebukes the false teachers for their dissimulation and hypocrisy. Everything in his conduct was candid and known to them all.

2 Cor 11:7. Or, have I committed a fault which would lower me in your estimation, by humbling myself among you, in order, by this humiliation, to exalt you in the faith? Or, have I been guilty of any such fault by preaching the gospel amongst you, without any temporal recompense whatever?

This is intended as a reproach to the Corinthians for the unmerited preference shown the false teachers. He made great sacrifices, working at an humble, laborious trade, to exalt them in the faith, and he preached gratuitously. The contrary was the case with the false teachers, and in the language of bitter irony, he asks, was it this that lowered him in their esteem?

2 Cor 11:8. Other churches I have distressed, owing to their great poverty, by receiving from them the necessary means of subsistence in order to minister to you.

He urges the second point regarding his gratuitous preaching, and reproaches them for their cupidity. He took the necessary means of support from poor churches, while engaged in the service of the Corinthians, who were so wealthy.

2 Cor 11:9. And when amongst you, although destitute of the necessaries of life, I was not a burthen to any of you; for, the necessary means of subsistence, which could not be fully supplied from my own manual labour, were furnished to me by the brethren who came from Macedonia. And in all things I have kept myself from being a charge to you, and I shall observe the same course in future.

“The brethren supplied.” He says, “supplied,” because from manual labour, at the trade of a tent maker, he partly derived the means necessary for support; the Macedonian brethren supplied what was further needed. He makes no express mention of manual labour; he merely refers to the generosity of the Macedonians, in order to stimulate the avaricious Corinthians to emulate them, and to show that independently of his own manual labour, he had a right to support as a minister of the gospel. He says, he shall receive nothing in future, lest it might be supposed that he referred to the matter in hopes of future remuneration.

2 Cor 11:10. I call the truth of Christ to witness, that this subject of boasting in having preached the gospel gratuitously, shall receive no interruption, either at Corinth, or even throughout all Achaia.

“This glorying,” viz., in preaching gratuitously.

2 Cor 11:11. Is this my resolve to receive nothing from you owing to any want of affection for you? I call God, the searcher of hearts, to witness the sincerity of my love for you.

It is not from want of affection for them, as persons who entertain mutual dislike decline presents, that he will not accept anything from them.

2 Cor 11:12. But what I have been doing, I will continue to do, viz., to preach the gospel amongst you gratuitously, that I may deprive the false teachers of all grounds for asserting that, in this respect, they are equal to us, a thing which they make a subject of glorying.

His reason for declining all remuneration from them is, to deprive the false teachers of every ground for appearing equal to him in this respect—a thing for which they were most anxious. In other matters, they claimed to be his superiors. It is likely, that the false teachers received remuneration from the people (20), and were anxious that St. Paul should receive it also, so that they might claim equality with him. Some interpreters say, they did not receive it publicly; they preached in public with apparent gratuitous disinterestedness; but in private, they received it, and, according to this opinion, the Apostle’s object here is, to cut off all pretext for their receiving it in future, after his own example, otherwise, they would not continue equal to him in this respect. The former opinion, which implies that they received remuneration publicly, appears, however, the more probable. (The words, “wherein they glory”) are to be read within a parenthesis.

2 Cor 11:13. They wish to imitate us; for such men, falsely called, and in name only, Apostles, are deceitful workmen, or ministers, wishing to put on the garb and appearance of Apostles of God, although really ministers of Satan.

He explains the last words of the preceding verse, “even as we.” These falsely-called Apostles wish to appear like us, for they are deceitful workmen, who wish to counterfeit the character of true Apostles.

2 Cor 11:14. And it need be no cause of wonder if they assume the appearance of true Apostles, when Satan himself, whose ministers they are, although an angel of darkness, oftentimes assumes the garb of an angel of light.

In this, they are only following the example of deception, left them by him whose ministers they are, Satan himself, who often appears in the garb of an angel of light. Hence it is that we are commanded to pray constantly—“Lead us not into temptation.” Against all his wiles, the surest safeguard is a constant adherence to the doctrines and practices of the Church—“the pillar and the ground of truth”—as also a firm and unbounded confidence in Her “who has crushed his head,” and recourse in moments of doubt, difficulty and danger, to this omnipotent and all-merciful advocate to intercede for us with Him who is Omnipotent, and infinitely merciful by Nature, because He is God.

2 Cor 11:15. It is, then, no subject for surprise that his ministers should put on the appearance of true Apostles, of ministers of justice and truth; but the end of these wicked men shall be such as their deeds of hypocrisy, which cannot escape God, merit, that is to say, exposure of their misdeeds, and eternal punishment.

It is no wonder that Satan’s ministers should imitate the example of their chief

2 Cor 11:16. I again repeat my entreaty, that you bear with my folly while engaged in praising myself. Let no one, however, regard me in this as really foolish, for I have cause for thus praising myself. Still, if you really regard it as foolish in me to do so, receive me even as such.

“Again I say.” Some interpreters connect these words immediately with the words, “that which I speak” (verse 17), including the intermediate sentence, “let no one think me,” &c., within a parenthesis, as if he meant, “I say again, that what I am about to speak in my own praise, I speak not according to God, but in folly.” This arrangement they regard as necessary, in order to avoid contradiction between this and verse I, where he says, he is foolish, and here, unless the arrangement referred to were adopted, he says he is not to be regarded as foolish. “Let no man think me to be foolish.” The exposition and connection in the Paraphrase are, however, the most natural; nor is there any contradiction: for, in verse I, he begs of them to bear with his apparent folly, since it is apparently foolish for a man to indulge in self-praise, whereas here, he requests of them not to regard him as really foolish, since he had reason for lauding and commending himself, and he wishes them, should they persist in regarding him as really foolish, to receive him as such. From this we can clearly see the excessive humility of the Apostle in excusing himself so often, and his charity in sacrificing everything, and submitting to all manner of contempt for the salvation of souls.

2 Cor 11:17. What I speak in this matter of boasting, if the mere words be considered, is not according to God, but foolish, looking to appearances, but if the motive of charity, from which I praise myself, be considered, viz., lest by despising me, you adhere to false teachers it is really wise according to God.

If we look to the act merely of praising himself, it is seemingly not according to God, since it appears opposed to the true Christian humility of the gospel—and such a course is, apparently, foolish also; but if we look to the motive and the necessity by which it was dictated, it is really according to God, and therefore commendable.

2 Cor 11:18. Since many others make carnal and external things the subject of glorying, and you bear with them, I, too, shall glory in things deserving of commendation, and expect the same indulgence.

If the false teachers, although making mere external things quite foreign to the apostleship—such as extraction, the law, circumcision, &c.—subjects of boasting, are patiently borne with, the Apostle expects to be treated with the like indulgence, when reciting in his own praise matters really deserving of commendation.

2 Cor 11:19. For, although wise yourselves, you bear patiently with these foolish boasters, who are more troublesome than I am.

“Yourselves are wise,” is said in irony, because if they were really wise, they would not lend an ear to the wily suggestions of the false teachers against the true Apostle, since the faithful were tempted by the former, as was Eve by the old serpent.

2 Cor 11:20. For you patiently submit, should one of these false teachers, in the despotic exercise of authority, treat you like mere slaves, or devour your temporal substance, or receive gifts, or act towards you in a haughty, supercilious manner; or treat you with the utmost contumely, so as to strike you on the face.

The Apostle’s folly would be less troublesome, as it was confined to mere words, but the false teachers had in their folly treated them contumeliously, and taxed them in their property. It is disputed whether the words, “strike you on the face.” are to be understood literally, or whether they merely mean, treat you as contumeliously as if they struck you on the face. It is not easy to see why these words should not be understood just as well as the preceding in their strict literal meaning; nor is it very improbable, that the false teachers, under the influence of sudden passion, might have treated their converts in this way.

2 Cor 11:21. These things I state as a reproach to you; for, notwithstanding this, you esteem these men more than you do us; as if it were from weakness, and not from humility, meekness, and charity, we refrain from treating you similarly. In this point, I yield up to them all superiority. But in every point in which they may attempt to glory, (if it be allowed me to speak in folly), I shall compete with them.

These things he mentioned by way of reproach to the Corinthians on account of their undue preference for the false teachers, notwithstanding their many crimes, and their depreciation of himself, as if it were weakness, and a mark of inferiority in him, to avoid the abuses of which they were guilty, and not rather the fruits of Christian charity and humility. The Apostle yields a preference to the false teachers in these abusive practices, but in every other matter of commendation, wherein they might attempt to glory, he will compete with them. If St. Paul had been thus treated, he only met with the treatment to which all the servants of God, the most distinguished for zeal, had to submit from creation, and will have to endure to the end of the world. “Our Redeemer, the author and finisher of our faith, met the same opposition from sinners, and do we not find his annointed Vicar subjected to the same barbarous treatment at the present day, and the Holy City made the common receptacle of thieves and robbers?”*

“I speak according to dishonour,” are understood by some as qualifying the words immediately preceding, as if he meant, that they were not struck on the face, but that they were treated with as much contumely as if they were. It is better, however, to refer the words to the two entire preceding verses. The words “in this part,” are not in the Greek. They are found in the MSS. of Clermont and St. Germain.

2 Cor 11:22. If they glory in being Hebrews, so am I too a Hebrew; children of Israel, so am I; the descendants of Abraham, so am I.

There appears to be no great use in assigning the distinction between the several words “Hebrews,” “Israelites,” “Sons of Abraham.” The meaning appears to be: if they glory in being of Hebrew origin, and in speaking the Hebrew tongue, so can I also; in being the descendants of Israel, and not of Esau, so can I; and in being the natural descendants of Abraham, and not proselytes to the Jewish religion, so can I also.

2 Cor 11:23. If they glory, and falsely so, in being ministers of Christ (although it may be apparently foolish, still it is true for me to say so), I am their superior in this respect. I have sustained more labours for the gospel of Christ than they; I have been longer and oftener in chains, oftener subjected to the lash, more frequently in danger of death.

If they glory, and falsely glory, in being ministers of Christ … “I am more,” that is, their superior in this respect, and my superiority over them as a minister of the Gospel I have proved. For the labours which I underwent for the gospel, are far greater and more numerous than those which they have undergone. “In stripes above measure,” i.e., I underwent more stripes than could be numbered.

2 Cor 11:24. On five different occasions have I received from the Jews forty, less by one, or thirty-nine stripes.

The law of Deuteronomy (Dt 25:3) forbade the Jews, in scourging a Hebrew brother, to inflict more than forty stripes at a time; and the Jews, in order to confine themselves for certain within the law, inflicted only thirty-nine on St. Paul on the occasions referred to. There is no mention of these five flagellations, in the Acts of the Apostles.

2 Cor 11:25. Thrice was I scourged with rods by the Gentiles, once stoned, thrice was I shipwrecked. I was tossed about for an entire day and night on the billows of the fathomless deep, in constant danger of death.

“In the depth of the sea.” The Greek has only, εν τω βυθῶ, in the depth, which most probably refers to the sea on which the Apostle must have been sometimes tossed after shipwreck, every moment in danger of perishing.

2 Cor 11:26. I underwent many toilsome and perilous journeys for the gospel; I had to encounter perils of several kinds—perils from rivers, perils from robbers, perils from those of my own race, the Jews; perils from the persecutions of the Gentiles, perils in the city, perils in the desert, perils on the sea, dangers from the treachery of false brethren, that is, of bad and insincere Christians.

He proved himself their superior, as minister of the gospel, verse 23, by the many and perilous journeys he had undertaken on its account. That the journeys were perilous appears from the following, “perils,” &c. “Perils in the sea,” refer not to the damages of shipwreck—for of these he had spoken already—but to some conspiracy among the crews, similar to that referred to, Acts 20:3. “False brethren,” refers to some insincere Christians, who, while affecting to befriend the spread of the gospel, were in reality its deadliest enemies. Of such men, plenty are to be found in every age—the most noxious of the tares, sown by the enemy in the field of the Church.

2 Cor 11:27. We have proved ourselves more excellent ministers of the gospel than they, in the labours and painful fatigues and weariness which we underwent, in many privations from want of sleep, in hunger and thirst from want of the necessary aliments, in the fastings we voluntarily underwent, in cold and the want of necessary clothing.

“In labour and painfulness,” &c. What a picture of an Apostolic life! St. Paul converted the nations; but, it was only by undergoing superhuman labours, submitting to the most galling trials, and patiently enduring bad treatment, the most unmerited. These were the means employed by God to display through him his infinite power and wisdom. How dearly must not the Apostle have prized human souls! Woe, therefore, to the pastor who is not in some degree animated with his spirit—whose whole care is not engrossed with the most efficacious means of securing the salvation of his people, for every one of whom, if there be a just judge in heaven, he shall render a rigid account, giving blood for blood and soul for soul! Woe to the pastor, through whose fault, be it neglect or indifference, or positive scandal—the blood of God shall have flowed for his people in vain!

2 Cor 11:28. Besides, these privations, which are merely exterior and afflict the body, we had to endure interior anguish, the weight of business daily pressing on me, and the solicitude which I felt for all the churches.

He refers to the interior anguish and solicitude which he had to endure, in addition to the instances of bodily sufferings already enumerated.

2 Cor 11:29. Which of the faithful shows an infirmity of disposition to fall into sin on the slightest provocation, with whom I do not deeply sympathize? Which of them actually commits sin, on provocation given, on whose account I do not experience the most poignant anguish?

“Weak,” i.e., prone to fall into sin on slight provocation. “Scandalized,” actually erring.

2 Cor 11:30. If I must glory, I will glory in the sufferings and humiliations which I have undergone for Christ, rather than in these exalted gifts, of which the false teachers so often boast.

Since it becomes necessary for him to glory, he prefers glorying in these things, in which he would be apt to appear low, abject, and contemptible to men, viz., afflictions, stripes, imprisonment, &c., rather than in the exalted gifts conferred on him, viz., tongues, miracles, the conversion of nations, &c.

2 Cor 11:31. The omniscient God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is deserving of praise for endless, ages, knows that, in all I have already enumerated, I have spoken the truth.

“Who is blessed,” refers, as appears from the Greek, to God the Father. “That I lie not,” is referred by some to what he is about to recount. It more probably, however, refers to what preceded.

2 Cor 11:32. When I was at Damascus, the governor of the nation under king Aretas placed watches both by day and night at the gates of the city for the purpose of apprehending me and putting me to death, to gratify the Jews.
2 Cor 11:33. And I was let down through a window, in a basket from the wall, and thus escaped being apprehended by him.

Aretas was king of Arabia Petrea, the father-in-law of Herod Antipas, who divorced the daughter of this Aretas to make room for the infamous Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip. Aretas placed “a governor,” in Greek, εθναρχης, Ethnarch, over Damascus, of which he was then ruler.

“To apprehend me.” The common Greek has, “wishing to apprehend me.” The word, wishing, is not found in some of the chief manuscripts, nor in the Syriac and Armenian versions.

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Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on 2 Corinthians Chapter 10

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 31, 2019

Scripture links are to the Douay Rheims translation

In this and the two following chapters, the Apostle puts forward his defence of himself against the charges preferred by the false teachers and their deluded followers. The Apostolic freedom, with which he corrected the abuses referred to in his first Epistle, gave offence to many. This was artfully seized hold of by the false teachers, and made a subject of accusation against the Apostle. He was accordingly charged with a despotic and tyrannical exercise of authority, so much at variance with the example of meekness and clemency set us by Christ; and so little in character with his own personal appearance, and the tone of his speech when amongst them, which were represented as mean and contemptible. This difference between his language when present, and the lofty style of his Epistles when absent, they ascribed to human, worldly policy. The Apostle commences the vindication of his Apostolic authority with an earnest entreaty to the Corinthians, through the meekness and clemency of Christ, not to force him to exercise his authority amongst them (2 Cor 10:1-2). He shows how unfounded is the calumny of his enemies, in charging him with following the wiles of human policy, by describing the nature of the struggle in which he is engaged, and the weapons he is to employ in the spiritual warfare against error. He shows that, when necessary, he is prepared for the vigorous exercise of authority (2 Cor 10:3–6). He submits to the Corinthians themselves the decision of his cause as between him and the false teachers, and shows how much he is superior to them, looking even to the external evidence of facts. He abstains from referring to certain actions well known to them, lest by so doing he might give colour to the charge preferred against him of attempting to terrify them by the display of authority (2 Cor 10:7–11). He repels the charge of being menacing in his Epistles and mean in his discourses when present, by asserting that whether absent or present, he is always consistent (2 Cor 10:11). In a strain of bitter irony, to which he has recourse in self-defence, he taxes the vanity and unmeaning boasting of the false teachers, with whom he would not presume to compare himself (2 Cor 10:12). He shall not, like them, indulge in extravagant and false boasting, but he shall merely boast of the labours he had actually undergone—labours which, unlike the attempts of the false teachers, had been arranged by Divine Providence (2 Cor 10:14-15). Nor shall he, like them, boast of the labours of others, but shall content himself with the glory arising from the faith of the Corinthians, and such other nations as he may have preached the gospel to (2 Cor 10:16). He shows the object of all lawful boasting, and the proper end of all glory.—viz., God (2 Cor 10:17-18).

Text in purple indicates Fr. MacEvilly’s paraphrasing of the scripture he is commenting on

2 Cor 10:1. Now I Paul myself, who am your Apostle, be seech you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ, which I am accused of not imitating, and, not alone this, but with observing in your presence a different line of conduct from that which I follow in your absence. When amongst you, I am said to demean myself in an humble, submissive manner, and when absent, to display a domineering, haughty exercise of authority.

“Mildness of Christ.” From the menacing tone of his Epistles, the Apostle was charged with a want of that spirit of meekness of which Christ has given us the example, and which he proposed to us for imitation:—“Learn or me, because I am meek and humble of heart.”

“Modesty,” regards the merciful clemency manifested by Christ towards sinners, and which the Apostle was charged with discarding in his severe treatment of the incestuous man (1 Cor 5). It is remarked, that the Apostle, in the preceding chapters, speaks of himself in the plural number: because in them he was defending his colleagues, and the gospel ministry in general: while here, he employs the singular; because he is engaged in a defence of himself personally, against the Jewish teachers, who wished to unite the law of Moses with the gospel (11:22).

2 Cor 10:2. I entreat you, not to oblige me, when I shall have come amongst you, to have recourse to the stern exercise of authority, which I am supposed to employ against some of you, who, seduced by the false teachers, regard us as men who live according to human and carnal affections.

“As if we walked.” &c. The false teachers asserted that the difference of tone observable in his Epistles and conversation, was owing to worldly policy—as if, when present, he sought popularity, and when absent, he wished to inspire them with terror and awe of himself.

2 Cor 10:3. (In this, however, they are mistaken), for, although, like other men, we live in this body of flesh; still, in our spiritual warfare with sin and unbelief, we do not follow the rules of human feelings or wisdom.

This calumny he refutes as being opposed to the glory of his ministry—showing also that the charge of adopting carnal or human means made against him was false.—For, though like other men, he lives in a mortal body; still, in his war with sin, he does not follow, etc., (vide Paraphrase).

2 Cor 10:4. For the arms which we employ in this spiritual warfare are not carnal, but spiritual; and these derive their efficacy from the power of God, for the destruction of the fortifications of our enemies, and for destroying the reasonings of those who oppose the faith.

The arms of apostolic warfare are not “carnal;” such as wealth, eloquence, glory, strength, craftiness, &c., which political men employ for their own purposes—“but mighty to God;” such are, the word of God, patience, meekness, prayer. These are, of themselves, powerless; but, they are rendered “mighty” by the power of God, by the gifts of the Holy Ghost, and by miracles. “Unto the pulling down of fortifications,” by means of which the enemies of God and of the faith endeavour to protect their errors. He explains what these “fortifications” are. They are nothing else than “the counsels,” or, the acute reasonings of unbelieving philosophy.

2 Cor 10:5. And of every altitude both in human knowledge and language, that opposes itself to the knowledge of God, contained in his gospel, and by which we lead captive every intellect, no matter how exalted or cultivated, to render obedience to Christ, by voluntarily submitting to faith.

He continues his metaphorical allusions to fortifications; some of which are unassailable from their artful construction. To these he has already alluded. Others are unassailable from their altitude. To these he alludes here—“and every height, &c.” “Height” has reference to all false teaching opposed to faith, whether coming from Pagan philosophers, Jewish doctors, or heretics. “That exalteth itself against the knowledge of God,” i.e., every thing sublime and profound in secular learning and human science, whereby attempts are made to subvert the true knowledge of God, contained in his gospel. “And bringing into captivity every understanding.” The Greek is, και αιχηαλωτιζοντες παν νοημα, and leading captive every thought (or intellectual reasoning), unto the obedience of Christ, by believing in his gospel. Hence, the will has a share in the assent of faith; from it, faith derives its merit. This obedience is exercised by assenting to truths in themselves not evident; for, faith is “the evidence of things that appear not.”—(Heb. 11).

2 Cor 10:6. And we have the same arms in readiness to punish every disobedience; and this power we shall exercise against such as may contumaciously persevere in their disobedience, after the number of those among you brought back to obedience shall have been filled up.

“When your obedience,” &c. To such among them as were seduced into disobedience by the false teachers, or were persevering in sin, notwithstanding his admonitions, he gives time to be reformed; but if they persevere in their evil course, he shall punish them, as they are not to be accounted among those from whom obedience was to be expected.

2 Cor 10:7. In the meantime, see how things are, if we look to the very evidence of facts. (In this point of view am I inferior to the false teachers?) If any of them boasts in being the minister of Christ, let him again and again reflect within himself, that if he be a minister of Christ, so are we also (and hence, in this respect, not inferior to him).

“See things,” &c. A different reading is given in the Greek, which runs thus:—τα κατα προσωπον βλεπειτε; do you look on things according to outward appearances? According to which, the Apostle conveys a reproach to them for judging of things merely by their exterior. According to our reading, the Apostle invites them to judge of his cause as compared with that of the false teachers, even according to external appearances and the evidence of facts. “So are we also.” The Apostle, too, is a minister of Christ, as appears from his life and actions.

2 Cor 10:8. I say not inferior to him—for, although I were even to boast still more of the power which the Lord gave us to advance your salvation, and not to injure it, I might not be ashamed of it (as being a fact, and a fact, too, which I proclaim for God’s glory and your salvation).

“Unto edification, not for destruction.” The false teachers, by the dissemination of erroneous teachings, regarding the necessity of uniting the legal ceremonies with the gospel, and by their pernicious example, were destroying the spiritual edifice of sanctity among the Corinthians. The Apostle preached up the abrogation of the Jewish ceremonies, which they endeavoured to retain in full force. “Which the Lord hath given.” The ecclesiastical power is given by God; hence, it should be submitted to with respect and reverence. But it is to be exercised “unto edification”; hence, the ecclesiastical superior should never, in the exercise of power, injure the spiritual interests of his people.

2 Cor 10:9. But I shall refrain from so doing, lest I might appear to be only making a display of authority, and endeavouring to inspire you with fear by my Epistles.

The greater number of the Greek copies connect this verse with the foregoing (as in Paraphrase); or, it may be connected thus:—I have made mention of the power which God gave me for your edification, and not for your destruction; and that, lest I might appear to be terrifying you, &c. Others connect it with verse 11, and include verse 10, in a parenthesis, thus:—“But lest I might be thought to be terrifying you by my Epistles, as I have been charged with doing” (verse 9). (“For his Epistles, indeed,” &c., verse 10). Let the persons who thus charge me, know, &c. (verse 11).

2 Cor 10:10. (“For indeed It is Epistles,” say these my maligners, “thunder forth menances and are full of authority, but his personal appearance is mean, and His language contemptible.”)

“His Epistles are weighty,” i.e., menacing; “and strong,” i.e., full of authority, or Powerful in style and replete with argument, as opposed to his personal appearance and conversation. “But his bodily presence (or appearance) is weak,” &c. We are told by Nicephorus, that the Apostle was very small in stature.—(Lib. 2, chap. 37). Hence. St. Chrysostom (Homil. de Principe Apost.), terms him “tricubitalis.” His conversation was also divested of the strength and authority which he displays in his Epistles.

2 Cor 10:11. Whosoever he be, that speak thus, let him know and rest firmly persuaded, that such as we appear to be, when absent, in the language transmitted through our Epistles, the same we shall be in reality and in point of fact, when present.

He says, in defence of his own character, that whether absent or present, he will always be the same, always consistent.

2 Cor 10:12. For, we cannot presume to measure ourselves, or enter into competition with certain persons who commend themselves, and despise us; but we measure ourselves by ourselves—that is, by that measure which suits us, and compare ourselves according to that measure, and none other.

In terms of bitter irony, he says, he could not presume to compare himself with “some,” i.e., the false teachers, who are always praising and commending themselves; but he will measure himself with the measure that best suits him and is most befitting for him—viz., his own self, and thus prefer himself to no one else. In the Greek, the latter part of this verse is read differently from our Vulgate; instead of, “but we measure ourselves by ourselves,” &c., the Greek reading is, ἀλλὰ αὐτοὶ ὲν ἐαυτοις ἑαυτοὺς μετροῦντες, καὶ συνκρείνοντες ἑαυτους ἑαυτοῖς, ου συνιᾶσιν, but they measuring themselves with themselves, and comparing themselves with themselves, do not understand. That is measuring themselves according to their foolish imaginations, without following any fixed rule founded on truth, and following their own judgment, they err, supposing themselves to be greater than they really are.

2 Cor 10:13. We will not, like others, glory beyond the limits of our evangelical labours; but we will confine ourselves to the measure of the rule which God has measured to us; or, to the limits which God has assigned to us, according to which rule, our apostleship has reached even to you.

He will not imitate the false teachers—whom he here taxes—by indulging in undue boasting. They boasted, as we are told by St. Chrysostom and Theophylact, that they had preached the gospel throughout the earth. But the Apostle confines his boasting to what he really did, to having preached in the places assigned to him in the distribution, which the Apostle made of the different parts of the earth, for the more effectual propagation of the gospel. “A measure to reach even to you.” In this distribution, which was inspired by God himself (“which God measured to us”), Achaia fell to the lot of St. Paul. Hence, he might glory in having preached among them, and that by the ordination of God himself, unlike the false teachers, who boasted of what they never did, while, what they did, was without a divine commission.

2 Cor 10:14. For, in this matter, we do not boast beyond what we ought, which would be the case, if we had not come to you. For, in truth, we have come as far as you, the first to preach the gospel among you.

“For we stretch not ourselves beyond our measure,” i.e., in this matter we boast not more than we ought. The words are the same as those of the preceding verse—“we will not glory beyond our measure.” “As if we reached not unto you,” That is, we would have gloried beyond what we ought, if we gloried, as we have done, in coming to you, and had not come. “For, we are come as far as you in the Gospel of Christ;” and hence, we have not boasted unduly of having preached to you, and of having “begotten you in Jesus Christ through the Gospel” (1 Cor. chap. 4), and in saying, “are you not our work in the Lord?”—(1 Cor. chap. 9).

2 Cor 10:15. We will not, like the false teachers, make the labours of other men the subject of our immoderate and undue boasting. But we hope that by the increase and progress of your faith, our glory in you will be increased, according to the measure of our labour in bringing you to perfection.

He says, he will not, like the false teachers, whom he indirectly charges throughout this Epistle with doing the things, against which he defends his own character, make the happy results of other men’s labours, the subject of his boasting. “Of your increasing faith.” These words are, in the Greek, a genitive absolute, αυξανομενης τῆς πιστεως ὑμῶν, and mean, while your faith is increasing, we have hope to be magnified in you, i.e., that our glory in you shall be increased. The Codex Vaticanus has, ἡμὼν, our faith. “According to our rule,” i.e., according to the extent of our labours. “Abundantly,” i.e., bringing you to perfection. The Greek word for “abundantly,” is, as εις περισσειαν, unto abundance, which may be construed with magnified, thus:—We have hopes to be abundantly magnified in you, i.e., we have hopes that, according as your faith increases, so shall our glory in you be more and more increased. Following the former construction, which is adopted in the Paraphrase, the word “abundantly,” may mean—We have hopes that our glory in you shall be increased; for, the teacher derives glory from the proficiency of his pupils. “According to our rule abundantly.” According as the measure of our labours is increased and extended, inasmuch as they shall not be confined to you, but shall be extended to other regions.

2 Cor 10:16. We also hope to proceed to other provinces beyond you, in preaching the Gospel, without intruding on those marked out for others, and without glorying in the labours of others, i.e., not making the fruits resulting from the culture and preparation made by them, the subject of our boasting.

His rule or measure, being extended, he expects to preach the Gospel in places far beyond them; not, however, in the districts assigned for the apostolical labours of others, nor with a wish to make the fruits, of which the seeds had been laboriously prepared and planted by others, the subject of his boasting. This is, indirectly, levelled at the false teachers, who wished to claim the merit of other men’s labours.

2 Cor 10:17. But, whosoever glories, let him glory in the Lord only (from whom all things are derived, and to whom the glory of all things should be referred).

He points out the object to which all praise should be directed—viz., God, the source of all blessings and good gifts, and the end, therefore, to which the glory of all things should be directed.

2 Cor 10:18. For, it is not the man who commends or praises himself, that is deserving of commendation; but the man whom God shows to be deserving of praise, by the works which he enables him to perform.

“Is approved;” i.e., it is not our self-praise, or self-commendation, that renders us really acceptable and deserving of praise; but, it is the testimony which God renders to us, by the works which he enables us to perform, and the gifts which he bestows upon us, that shows us to be really deserving of it. Hence, the self-praise of the false teachers should be regarded as suspicious, unless confirmed by the testimony of good works.

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Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on 2 Corinthians Chapter 9

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 31, 2019

Scripture links are to the Douay Rheims translation

After having commended the persons sent by him to receive their contributions, the Apostle now resumes the subject of alms-deeds. He says, it is superfluous to stimulate them to this holy work, as lie is well aware of their prompt and ready willingness in the matter. He confines himself to three qualities which should characterise their alms-deeds—viz., promptitude, generosity, and cheerfulness. He stimulates them to promptitude, by the consideration of his former boasting regarding them, and of the consequent cause of shame it would be, both to himself and them, if they were not prepared when he should arrive accompanied by some of the Macedonians (2 Cor 9:2–4). He employs the beautiful illustration of the sower who reaps according to the abundance of the seed which he sows, to stimulate their generosity (2 Cor 9:5-6). He recommends the quality of cheerfulness in their almsgiving (2 Cor 9:7). Having recounted the conditions of alms-deeds, he meets a difficulty which the timorous fears of some might suggest—viz., that by the exercise of generous charity, they might themselves be reduced to want, and he shows the groundless nature of such fears Firstly, because God is able to supply their necessary wants, and also to furnish means of further charity (2 Cor 9:8). Secondly, because such is the ordinary dispensation of God’s Providence (2 Cor 9:9). And he illustrates this by the example of the master, who furnishes the husbandman with seed (2 Cor 9:10). Thirdly, by recounting the several advantages of alms-deeds (2 Cor 9:11-15).

Text in purple indicates Fr. MacEvilly;s paraphrasing of the scripture he is commenting on

2 Cor 9:1. (I then commend to your charge these tried men whom I have sent to you), for, as to the eleemosynary contribution itself, which is to be administered by them for the relief of the afflicted poor of Jerusalem, I deem, it superfluous to say a single word to stimulate you.

The connection of this verse with the preceding is given in the Paraphrase. He says, it is superfluous to stimulate them to undertake the good work itself, as he is aware of their disposition, having themselves commenced the matter last year. Hence, in this chapter, he dwells particularly on the conditions of their alms-deeds, viz.: promptitude, generosity, and cheerfulness. He treats, first, of promptitude.

2 Cor 9:2. For, I am well aware of the prompt readiness of your will to contribute, and this promptitude of yours. I have made the subject of my boasting with the Macedonians, telling them that all Achaia (of which your city is the capital), has been ready for the last year to contribute, and the good example of ready willingness which you gave, had the effect of provoking many to imitate you.

The spiritual and heavenly wisdom of the Apostle is here remarkably exhibited. He stimulates the Corinthians to generosity by the example of the Macedonians; and the latter he stimulated to promptitude, by the example of the Corinthians.

2 Cor 9:3. But I have sent Titus and the two brethren before me, in order that my boasting concerning you in, this matter of alms-deeds may not be proved to have been vain and foolish, and that you may be prepared when I come to you, as I told the Macedonians you would.

“I have sent the brethren,” i.e., Titus and his two associates.

“In this behalf,” i.e., in this affair of aims-deeds. He is not in the least afraid of them in other respects.

2 Cor 9:4. Lest, should any of the Macedonians accompany me to Corinth, and find you unprepared, we should be ashamed on this matter of boasting; as if we were uttering falsehoods (to say nothing of the shame it would cause you to be found negligent in the cause of the poor).

“Least, when the Macedonians shall come.” In the common Greek it is, μὴ πως, ε͂ὰν ἔλθωσι—lest if the Macedonians should come, &c.; εαν, if, is wanting in the chief MSS. It frequently happened that the Apostles were honourably escorted, by members of the churches in which they were after preaching, to the place of their destination. “In this matter.” For which the common Greek is εν τη ὑποστασει ταυτη της καυχησεως, in this confidence of boasting; της καυχησεως, is wanting in the chief MSS., and rejected by critics generally.

“Not to say,” i.e., not to speak of the shame it would be to you, to be found negligent in the cause of relieving the poor.

2 Cor 9:5. Therefore it was, that I thought proper to request of the brethren to go before us, and prepare this offering of generous liberality, so that it may be ready when we arrive, and may be truly a generous, cheerful offering, and not the reluctant, parsimonious tribute wrung from avarice.

“So as a blessing,” i.e., a generous, cheerful offering. He now recommends abundance and cheerfulness in their offerings.

2 Cor 9:6. What I mean to convey is this: the man who dispenses charity sparingly, shall meet a recompense in the same proportion, and the man who dispenses it liberally and generously, shall also reap a proportionate, i.e., a liberal, recompense from God.

He says that the man who gives alms—which is meant by “sowing”—“sparingly,” “will reap,” i.e., will receive but a small reward, not trifling or small in itself, but in comparison with that which shall be received by him, who shall sow or dispense “in blessings,” i.e., plentifully and abundantly. Such a person will obtain an abundant reward.

2 Cor 9:7. Let each person, however, contribute just according to his will and inclination; but let him do so cheerfully, and not as a man acting from reluctance or constraint, because God loves and remunerates a cheerful giver.

He now recommends this quality of cheerfulness in the giving of alms. With God, who sees the heart, no alms deeds are acceptable, unless given from a cheerful heart. Hence, St. Augustine says—if you give away your bread with sadness, you lose both your bread and its reward.

2 Cor 9:8. (Let no groundless fears of personal want, resulting from the exercise of charity to the poor, deter you); for God is able to bestow upon you such an abundance of good gifts, that, having in all things, and at all times, an ample sufficiency, you may be fully equal to every good work of charity.

Having explained the conditions of alms-deeds, he now meets a difficulty, which the timid fears of some might suggest, viz., that if they were to contribute generously, they themselves might perhaps be reduced to want. He tells them to banish such groundless apprehensions; for, that God, who is generous to those who are themselves liberal, can make their substance prosper, so as to enable them to exercise without difficulty the works of charity.

2 Cor 9:9. As we find it written in Psalm 112 regarding the just man:—Like a sower, he hath scattered his wealth, he liberally distributed it to the poor, his alms deeds remain in their effects, both for time and eternity.

He employs the authority of Sacred Scripture in banishing all such groundless fears. The same thing shall happen them, that is recorded of the just man (Psalm 112), of whom it is said, “he hath dispersed,” &c.—(See Paraphrase). “His justice,” by which is meant alms-deeds, to which the designation of “justice,” is applied in the Gospel (v.g.): “See, you do not your justice before men.”—(Matt. chap. 6.) “Remaineth for ever;” it remains in time, in the temporal benedictions and graces which it merits, and in eternity, in the glory with which it shall be abundantly rewarded.

2 Cor 9:10. Therefore, banish all groundless fears, because God, who supplies you with the means of dispensing your charities, will also furnish you with the necessaries of life, and will even multiply your temporal substance which you dispense to the poor, and increase the spiritual fruits of your justice and sanctification.

He dispels their fears by recounting the rewards attached to almsgiving. God, who supplies them with temporal means (“the seed”), wherewith to relieve their distressed brethren, like the master who supplies the husbandman with seed to sow in his field, will supply them with food and the other necessaries of life; he will even multiply their “seed,” i.e., their temporal substance, and reward them in this life with graces, which are the seed of glory in the life to come. The ordinary course of God’s providence is to reward aims-deeds with temporal benedictions in this life, and whenever he departs from this course, as he sometimes does, it is for the trial and good of his elect, and for his own greater glory. The words “will multiply,” &c., are read optatively in the common Greek, χορηγησαι και πληθυναι, &c., may he, who … give and multiply, &c. According to this reading, the Apostle begs a blessing for them. The Vulgate reading in the future, χορηγησει, και πληθυνεῖ, &c., is, however, generally preferred by critics, on the authority of the chief MSS.

2 Cor 9:11. So that having become enriched in all kinds of blessings, you may be enabled to exercise the works of charity with cheerful generosity, which, on your part, affords us matter for returning thanks to God.

“You may abound unto all simplicity,” that is, be able to exercise heartfelt generosity from pure motives. The Apostle, in the preceding passage, in order the more effectually to dispel all feelings of diffidence from the minds of the Corinthians, promises them these two things which he had shown (verse 8) to be possible with God, and (verse 9) to be ordinarily given to the just, viz., sufficiency for support, and abundance for the purposes of charity; and this he illustrates by the example of the master who furnishes the husbandman with seed. For, as the master supplies seed to the tiller of the ground, and furnishes him with the necessaries of life, and, moreover, at harvest time, assigns to him a share in the harvest, by the multiplication of which he can sow more extensively at the coming spring; so, God who supplies the almsgiver with the seed, or means or dispensing charity, which he is to dispense to his own poor, will also supply him with the necessaries of life, and will multiply more and more his resources and means for the further sowing or dispensing of charity.

2 Cor 9:12. Because the administration of these alms not only supplies the saints with the necessary means of subsistence; but it also causes manifold thanks to be rendered, on this account, by many to the Lord.

“The administration of this office.” The Greek is ἡ διακονία τῆς λειτουργιας ταυτης, the ministry of this liturgy, or sacred service. The Apostle insinuates that alms-deeds is a sort of a sacrifice, as being a kind of oblation acceptable to God, and there is some sacrifice of temporal goods involved in it. “By many thanksgivings in the Lord.” In the common Greek, by many thanksgivings to God. The Codex Vaticanus has, “by many thanksgivings to Christ.”

2 Cor 9:13. Who having had a proof or experiment of your charity administered by us, give glory to God on account of your obedience to the precepts of the gospel, to which you are bound in virtue of your Christian profession, and for the generous and cheerful liberality by which you make them and all others sharers in your temporal substance.

“By the proof of this ministry,” i.e., having experienced your charity through our ministry, they render glory to God for the works of his grace, for having enabled you to obey the Gospel in which you believe, and whose precepts you have bound yourselves to observe. Among the precepts of the Gospel is, that of giving alms-deeds to relieve the indigent. Glory should be rendered to God, “for the simplicity of your communicating, &c.,” i.e., for having endowed you with this generous, pure-minded liberality, of which they and all who need it are made partakers.

2 Cor 9:14. They also give glory to God in the prayers they pour forth for you, whom they are desirous to see on account of the singular gifts of grace bestowed upon you, and of which your liberality is a sure indication.

They also glorify God in their prayers for you, whom they are anxious to see on account of the peculiar grace of charity, and the other heavenly gifts which your generosity shows to have been bestowed on you by God.

2 Cor 9:15. Thanks be to God for having conferred on you the gifts of generous charity, the fruits of which are ineffable.

He returns God thanks for the “gift” of generous charity conferred on them, which may be justly styled “ineffable,” owing to the good resulting to men, and the glory redounding to God, from its exercise.

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Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on 2 Corinthians Chapter 8

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 31, 2019

Scripture links are to the Douay Rheims translation

In this chapter, the Apostle exhorts the Corinthians to contribute, after the example of the Churches of Macedonia, with generous liberality towards the fund, that was being collected throughout the Churches for the afflicted poor of Jerusalem. He extols the Macedonians for their spontaneous, cheerful, and liberal offerings, going beyond their means, and devoting themselves and their personal services to God and his ministers (2 Cor 8:1–5). Influenced by this generous example, lie entreated Titus to return to Corinth and forward this good work of charity, which should be the more abundant with the Corinthians, according as their wealth was greater than that of the Macedonians (2 Cor 8:5–7). In this matter, he refrains from enjoying anything by way of precept; he merely proposes a counsel, and exhorts them, by the example set them by the Macedonians, by the example of Christ our Lord, and by a reference to their own former good desires and purposes on this subject, to come forward and contribute liberally according to their abilities, as they had resolved on, the year before (2 Cor 8:7–11). He does not wish that their contribution should exceed their ability, or that they should be carried to the extent of enriching others, and impoverishing themselves, but only that there should be a certain measure of equality between them and their poor brethren, both in temporal and spiritual matters (2 Cor 8:11–15). He highly commends both Titus and the others who were sent to solicit their charitable contributions (2 Cor 8:16–20). His motive for sending such tried men to be the receivers of their bounty was, to remove all grounds for sinister suspicions regarding their honesty and integrity (2 Cor 8:20–21). From a feeling of consideration for the distinguished men whom he sent, he renews his earnest solicitation, that the Corinthians would contribute in a manner worthy of their own distinguished charity, and of the repeated boasting which the Apostle made regarding them.

Text in purple indicates Fr. MacEvilly’s paraphrasing of the scripture he is commenting on

2 Cor 8:1. I wish to make known to you, brethren, the singular grace of God, which has been plenteously bestowed on the churches of Macedonia.

Having already described the persecutions which he suffered in Macedonia (2 Cor 7:5), the Apostle now wishes to inform them of the grace conferred on these churches which were afflicted with him.

“Grace,” i.e., the holy dispositions, both of patience and liberality, which God conferred on these churches. Every good gift coming from God may, in a general sense, be termed “a grace,” in which general acceptation the word is employed here.

2 Cor 8:2. In the first place, having been tried by many tribulations, they were not only patient, but their joy was very great and abounding; and although their poverty was excessive in the extreme, still they behaved most generously—with a sincere and cheerful heart, abundantly and liberally contributing towards the wants of the poor.

“They have had abundance of joy.” In Greek, ἡ περισσεια τῆς χαρᾶς αυτων, και ἡ πτωχεια αυτων επερισσευσεν, the abundance of their joy and their poverty hath abounded &c. Such was the perfection of the grace of patience with which they were favoured that they not only endured affliction without murmuring, but with alacrity and much joy. The persecutions which the Macedonians suffered are referred to (2 Cor 7:5); for, it is likely that they were sharers in the tribulations which he himself underwent (see also 1 Th 1:6, 2:14). Such was their liberality, that notwithstanding their extreme poverty and depressed condition, they abundantly and with a sincere and cheerful heart, contributed to the wants of the poor. “Simplicity,” means a cheerful, sincere wish to contribute.

2 Cor 8:3. For, from personal knowledge, I can bear testimony to the fact that they, spontaneously and without solicitation, have come forward to contribute according to their ability, nay, beyond it.

He shows how “their poverty abounded unto the riches,” &c., for they went beyond their means in contributing, and that, unsolicited and unasked.

2 Cor 8:4. With great earnestness, entreating us to receive their voluntary donations, thus to enable them to have a share in contributing to the relief of their poor distressed brethren of the faith.

“Begging of us the grace.” In Greek, begging of us (to receive) the grace, &c. The word, receive, is, however, rejected by some Protestant Commentators, it is wanting in the chief MSS., and the Vulgate conveys the meaning expressed by the Greek. They besought the Apostle to receive their gratuitous offerings, and to enable them to contribute something for the “saints,” i.e., their afflicted brethren in Judea, for whose relief these collections were originated by the Apostle.

2 Cor 8:5. And not only did they come up to our expectations in contributing, but they exceeded them, by offering themselves and their personal services to the Lord, in the first place; and in the next place, to us his ministers, to perform the will of the Lord, according as we might make it known to them.

“And not as we hoped,” that is, they even exceeded our expectations. Others understand the words thus: And by contributing thus generously, they acted differently from what we might be led to expect. Considering their great poverty, and the plunder to which they were subjected, we should rather expect that they would beg to be excused from contributing at all. The Paraphrase is, however, preferable. They went farther than we expected in the generosity of their contributions, by offering themselves, &c. (see Paraphrase). It is likely, some among the Macedonians offered their services to the Apostle, to be employed in collecting these alms in whatever manner he might judge most pleasing to God.

2 Cor 8:6. So much were we influenced by their generosity, that we entreated Titus, after his return to us, to go back, and bring to a happy close, as he had begun it, this work of generosity also, as well as other good works among you.

Having thus far, by way of preface, lauded the generosity of the Macedonians, the Apostle now comes to the object which he had in view, of stimulating the Corinthians to follow the laudable example set them, in the liberality of their contributions. Influenced by the generous example set by the Macedonians, he begged of Titus to return to Corinth, to finish what he had commenced, and gives the faithful of that city an opportunity of adding this “grace,” or virtue of liberality, “also,” to their other virtues.

2 Cor 8:7. So that, as you already abound in all other good gifts, as you excel in the gifts of faith, of tongues, of knowledge, of diligence in every duty, or in employing all possible means for the salvation of your brethren and in your charity and affection for us, you would also excel and abound in this gift of liberality towards the afflicted poor.

From the 1st Epistle, chap. 1, it appears that the Corinthians were specially favoured with the abundant gifts of the Holy Ghost, and the Apostle now, by way of exhortation, expresses a desire, that they would abound in generosity, “also,” as they did in other gifts. “In word,” in the gift of tongues, or the faculty of communicating divine knowledge (as in 1 Cor 1), “in knowledge” of heavenly things.—(See 1 Cor 1:5).

2 Cor 8:8. I do not speak thus by way of precept; but I wish, by proposing to you the exemplary diligence of others, to elicit, and exhibit to them, a proof of the real and genuine sincerity of your charity.

As their Apostle, he might command them. But, convinced of their good dispositions, he contents himself with a mere counsel, which would effectually stimulate them to the good work. He thought it unnecessary to superadd a precept of his own to the divine precept, which binds, under pain of damnation, to give alms.

2 Cor 8:9. For, you know the gratuitous and generous charity of our Lord Jesus Christ, who enjoying, as God, boundless riches, became poor for us, in the nature which he assumed, in order that you might be spiritually enriched in his want.

He stimulates them by the heavenly example of our Lord Jesus Christ. He was “rich.” To him, as God, belonged the earth and its fulness, while, as man, he lived in the utmost poverty from his birth to his death, in order that he might enrich us spiritually; and if he, though God, has thus become poor, in his assumed nature, to enrich us, why should not we part with some of our temporal substance to relieve the wants of our afflicted brethren?

2 Cor 8:10. And in this matter I give you counsel only, but no command, and I counsel you to do what is useful to you, and what you yourselves not only began in the preceding year, but what you actually wished for (and so, in wish and act, you anticipated the Macedonians, whose example is now proposed for your imitation).

He gives a counsel which, if followed, shall be useful to them, since the alms now given shall be meritorious of eternal life, and shall increase the treasure of merit in heaven. This is a powerful incentive to generosity. He next stimulates them by reminding them of their own spontaneous promptitude during the previous year, in wishing this contribution to be set on foot, and in actually joining in it.

2 Cor 8:11. Now, therefore, perform in deed, by actually contributing, what you then commenced and wished for, so that as you were prompt in willing it, you may be prompt in executing it, each one according to his ability.

As, then, they were prompt in wishing for this collection of alms, they should be equally prompt in carrying it out, according to their means.

2 Cor 8:12. For, if there be promptitude of will to contribute, it will be acceptable to God according as one may contribute in proportion to his ability, be it great or small, so that it is not required of any one to contribute beyond what he actually possesses.

They are called on to contribute only according to their means, or in proportion to their abilities. If there be prompt cheerfulness and readiness of will, this good will is acceptable to God, provided it be accompanied with contributions according to their ability, but it is not required, in contributing, that they should exceed their abilities. God principally looks to the will, but if there be a sincere will, and not a mere inoperative velleity, it must be followed by corresponding acts. “According to that which it hath,” &c. This he probably adds lest they should imagine that he expected them to exceed their means, as had been done by the Macedonians (verse 3). “It hath”; the common Greek has, τις ἔχῇ, “a person, or one, hath,” but, τις is wanting in the chief MSS., and rejected by critics generally.

2 Cor 8:13. For, I am far from proposing that your charity should be carried so far, as that the others whom you relieve should live in ease and abundance, and that you yourselves should be reduced to straitened circumstances; but only that there should be a certain equality among you.

In this verse, he more fully explains why he did not wish them to contribute beyond their ability; he did not wish that the poor, in whose behalf their alms were solicited, should enjoy abundance, while they should feel the pressure of contracted means. He only wished a certain equality to be effected between them. This is explained next verse.

2 Cor 8:14. In the present life your abundance of temporal wealth should so supply and relieve their wants, as that their abundance of spiritual treasures would also supply for your spiritual want in the life to come; and thus there would be a sort of equality among you, inasmuch as neither of you would be in want as regards either temporals or spirituals.

“Supply their want.” “Supply” is not in the Greek, which literally runs thus—“let your abundance be for their want.” It is, however, understood. The Vulgate fills up the meaning. The equality which he wishes to see established between the Corinthians and their poorer brethren in Judea, consists in this, that neither should feel want in either temporal or spiritual matters; that the Corinthians should dispense the superfluities of their superabundant temporal riches, to relieve the corporal wants of others, while these latter in turn, by a certain communion of merits, would impart to their benefactors, a share of the spiritual treasures in which they abound. “When they should fail, they would be received into their eternal tabernacles, after having made for themselves friends out of the mammon of iniquity.”—(St. Luke 16)

2 Cor 8:15. Of this equality, which should exist amongst you, that which happened the Jews in the collection of the manna, is a most express figure; of them it is written (Exodus 16:18): that the man who collected a larger quantity than the measure prescribed (a gomor) had not more, nor had the man who collected a smaller quantity less than a gomor. This equality (charity should cause among you).

This equality was prefigured by that which the power of God had established, among the Jews in the collection of the manna. If any person collected more than the measure marked out for him (a gomor), he found himself possessed of no more; and if less, he found still that he had a gomor full.—(Exodus 16:18). The Apostle wishes the Corinthians to correspond with the lesson intended by God in this ordination of his Providence, and to effect by charity among themselves, what the divine power effected among the Jews, in the instance referred to.

2 Cor 8:16. But I thank God for inspiring Titus with the same solicitude for you which I have felt.

He now praises the persons whom he had sent to receive their alms, in order to procure for them the full confidence of the Corinthians, and to render their ministry more efficient.

2 Cor 8:17. For he at once complied with our exhortation to visit you. Nor did he indeed need to be stimulated thereto; for, being greatly concerned for you, he set out cheerfully and of his own accord.

Titus at once complied with the Apostle’s desire, that he would go to the Corinthians (verse 6), nay, such was his concern and affection for them, that he needed no exhortation, as he would have done spontaneously what the Apostle counselled him.

2 Cor 8:18. With him we have also sent the brother who is celebrated and praised throughout the Church for preaching the gospel.

“The brother.” It is a matter of dispute who this brother is. Some, among whom is Estius, understand the word to refer to Silas; others, to Barnabas. The latter, however, had left St. Paul before this period.—(Acts 15:39). It is more probable, that there is reference made to St. Luke, whose gospel, some say, was written at this time. At all events, he might be praised and celebrated throughout the Church for his zeal in preaching the faith. St. Jerome holds this latter opinion, and St. Ignatius, in his Epistle to the Ephesians, applies this to St. Luke.—Ut testatur Lucas, “cujus laus est in Evangelio.”

2 Cor 8:19. And not only that, but who has also been ordained, in accordance with the public suffrages of the Churches, as the companion of our travels, both for the purpose of preaching and of procuring this eleemosynary aid for the poor, which office of charity is administered by us for the glory of God, and for the purpose of manifesting the promptitude of our anxious concern for the poor.

He was also ordained, by the imposition of hands (as, the Greek word, χειροτονηθεις, has it), in accordance with the suffrages of the Churches, not only to preach, but also to be the companion of St. Paul’s travels, in order to procure this eleemosynary aid, “which is administered by us,” of which aid the Apostles were the ministers, for the purpose of advancing the glory of God, who is fed in his poor members, “and of manifesting their prompt and active solicitude in the cause of the poor.” “And our determined will,” in the common Greek, your determined will, the meaning of which is, in order to have an opportunity of making known to the world the promptitude and generosity of the Corinthians in affording charitable aid to the poor. The Vulgate reading “our,” is sustained by the best authority.

2 Cor 8:20. And we have sent men of this stamp, avoiding the least grounds for reproach, lest any person should charge us with embezzling, or applying to our private purposes, any part of these abundant charities which pass through our hands.

How exemplary is the apostolic prudence of St. Paul! He would not be himself the sole depositary of their bounty. He wishes them to entrust it to men of tried integrity, and to no single individual, lest any person should have the remotest grounds for suspecting him of appropriating to himself any portion of the alms received for the benefit of the afflicted poor.

2 Cor 8:21. For, we are anxiously careful to do good works not only before God, the searcher of hearts, but also before men, who might otherwise be scandalized.

He studiously, and with deliberate forethought, performs everything with a view of giving edification, and of avoiding scandal, in order that men, seeing his good works, may glorify the heavenly Father. On no one is the duty of giving edification more imperative than on the preacher of the gospel.—Verba suadent, exempla trahunt.

2 Cor 8:22. And with these two tried men we have also sent another brother, whom we have found, on many former occasions, careful and attentive, and from whom we expect still greater attention in the present matter, owing to his great confidence in you, and to the regard he entertains for you.

With these two he associates a third, who having been tried on many former occasions, was found diligent and exact, and from whom the Apostle expects more than ordinary solicitude and interest in the present matter, owing to the great esteem in which he holds the Corinthians. Some interpreters join the words, “much confidence,” with the word, “sent,” thus: “I have sent, with much confidence in you,” i.e., on account of the great esteem in which I hold you, another brother also, whom I have, on many occasions, found to be faithful and diligent. The former construction, which is adopted in the Paraphrase, is much preferable.

2 Cor 8:23. Whether, therefore, you consider Titus, who is my colleague and the partner of the toils which I undergo on your account, or whether you consider our two brethren whom we have sent with him, who are also sent by the Churches, and are employed in procuring the glory of Christ.

He sums up the claims to good and respectful treatment possessed by those whom he sends. Titus was his “companion and fellow-labourer,” a sharer in the labours he underwent “towards you,” on their account. The “brethren,” who accompanied Titus, were “the Apostles,” sent by the several “churches,” and persons employed in advancing “the glory of Christ.” The grammatical construction in the original is after the Hebrew style. “Titus” and “our brethren,” are in quite different cases. The sense is, however, that given in the Paraphrase.

2 Cor 8:24. Give them such a proof of your generosity as may be worthy of your great charity, and of the boasting of which we so often made you the subjects, and this proof you will exhibit in the presence of the Churches, by whom they are sent to solicit your alms.

He wishes them to give an example of generosity, such as would be worthy of their charity, and would not cause himself to blush for having so often made them the subject of his boasting—an example worthy to be exhibited for imitation, in all the churches.

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Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on 2 Corinthians Chapter 7

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 12, 2019

Scripture links are to the Douay Rheims translation

In this chapter, the Apostle exhorts the Corinthians to lead a life of sanctity, as a necessary means of securing the promises referred to at the close of the preceding chapter (2 Cor 7:1). Returning to the subject of his apology, he entreats than to give him a place in their affections and, passing over the immense services which he rendered them, he merely says that he gave them no cause for offence, by acts of fraud or corruption: thereby insinuating, that the false teachers, to whom some of them transferred their affections, were guilty of these mal-practices (2 Cor 7:2). By way of apology for the freedom with which he addresses them, he assures them of his unbounded affection for them; of his great confidence in them; and of the great joy which they afford him in the midst of tribulation (2 Cor 7:3-4). He describes the tribulation he endured (2 Cor 7:5). But, still greater was the joy which he derived from the arrival of Titus from Corinth, and from the consolation which Titus himself felt among them, which he imparted to the Apostle, when describing their repentance (2 Cor 7:6-7). Hence, the Apostle felt consolation surpassing his sorrow at having contristated them, when he learned the happy fruits of the wholesome correction which he administered, and the nature of the heavenly sorrow which they now feel (2 Cor 7:8-9). He describes the effects of true penitential sorrow; and points to their own use, as an exemplification of the same (2 Cor 7:10-11). Hence, the consolation of the Apostle, whose object in writing to them was to manifest his pastoral solicitude in their regard, on seeing the real proofs of true penance and conversion exhibited by them; this his consolation is heightened by the consolation with which they inspired Titus also (2 Cor 7:12-13). He describes the tender affection of Titus for them, and his own joy at finding that his expectations were not frustrated, and that he could place reliance on them in future.

Text in purple indicates Fr. MacEvilly’s paraphrase of the scripture he is commenting on

2 Cor 7:1. Since, then, such glorious promises have been made to us, dearly beloved brethren, let us, in order to secure them, cleanse ourselves from all defilement of both carnal and spiritual sins, consummating the sanctity received in baptism by good works performed from the filial fear of God.

“These promises.” The promises referred to in the preceding chapter—viz., that they would be temples of God, and his adopted sons and daughters, &c.

“Of the flesh,” i.e., carnal sins; such as gluttony, impurity, &c. “And of the spirit.” Spiritual sins—viz., pride, envy, &c. “Perfecting sanctification.” &c. Perfecting the sanctity communicated to us in baptism, by good works, which were to be performed from the filial fear of God. Hence, every Christian should not only avoid all sorts of sin; but, he should also endeavour to advance more and more in sanctity, by the performance of good works from the motive of virtue, the fear and love of God.

2 Cor 7:2. Give us a place in your heart and affections. We have injured no man. We have corrupted no man, either by false doctrines or bad example. We have fraudulently taken away the property of no man. (Hence we are not less deserving of your affection than are the false teachers, who are guilty of such crimes).

“Receive us,” are generally understood to mean, dilate your hearts, and give us in ample place in your affections. “We have injured no one,” &c. He omits referring to the immense services which he rendered to them, and which gave him a most indisputable claim to their affections. He merely mentions the faults he had avoided; with these, he indirecly taxes the false teachers, and leaves it to be inferred, that if men guilty of these crimes—a charge which he repels far from himself—had a place in their affections, surely, he who was innocent of them, could not be less deserving of their esteem.

2 Cor 7:3. I have not spoken thus from any feelings of bitterness, or with the view of condemning you. For, as we have already told you, you are in our hearts, and we love you in such a way, as to be ready to live, or die with you, or for you.

From a fear of irritating them, he says, that in the foregoing he had no idea whatever of conveying reproach or censure: since, they are the objects of his most intense love and affection.

2 Cor 7:4. I speak thus freely, because of the great confidence I have in you. I frequently make your affection for me the subject of much glorying. I am filled with consolation on account of you. I so abound, and superabound with joy in all the tribulations which befall me, that the excess of my joy extinguishes every feeling of pain arising from sorrow or tribulation.

“Great is my confidence,” &c. This he adds, to excuse the freedom with which he had spoken. And by the open expression of his feelings for them, he wishes to dilate their hearts, and secure a return of love. In all this he has in view their sanctification only. He expresses his “great confidence” in them, in order to secure a return of the same; and he makes their affection for him a subject of “glorying,” in order that they may make him in turn the subject of glorying against the false teachers. He is “filled with comfort,” owing to their reformation, and his joy in consequence so superabounds, as to extinguish all feelings of sorrow under tribulation. What an example of charity is here proposed to all superiors! They should convince those under their charge of the regard and esteem in which they hold them—of the joy they feel at their advancement in virtue, and show, that these feelings are the fruits, not or hypocrisy or dissimulation, but of true and unfeigned charity. By imitating the Apostle, they shall secure the confidence and love of those placed under them. They shall rule them in peace and sanctify them in charity.

2 Cor 7:5. (Not without cause do I allude to tribulations). For, when we were come into Macedonia, no relaxation from labour was permitted our body, but we were rather subjected to afflictions of every kind. From without, we had to endure open persecution from the infidels. From within, in the recesses of our own hearts, we were under constant apprehension of new evils and misfortunes.

Having alluded to his tribulation in the foregoing verse, he now shows how great it was, in order that they might judge of the magnitude of the joy which superabounded. After the afflictions which had befallen him in Asia (chap. 1), when he came to Macedonia, he had no respite there either; his body had no relaxation, although his mind was refreshed with hopes of future rewards. “But we suffered all tribulation.” The Greek of which, εν παντι θλιβομενοι, literally is, we were afflicted in all things “Combats,” i.e., open persecution “without,” from the unbelieving enemies of the gospel. “Fears within.” Interiorily tormented with the fear and dread of still greater afflictions. This journey to Macedonia is recorded by St. Luke (Acts, chap. 20). But he makes no mention of tribulation. Hence, all the sufferings of St. Paul are not recorded by St. Luke.

2 Cor 7:6. But God, the consoler of the afflicted, and particularly of the humble, has comforted us by the coming of Titus, whom we so long expected.

“By the coming of Titus.” The Apostle despatched Titus to Corinth, to ascertain the effects produced by his former Epistle. On this account, he came to Troas (2 Cor 2:13), to meet him, and not meeting him there, he passed over to Macedonia, not wishing to go to Corinth, until he first learned the condition of their Church. The return of Titus was to him a source of consolation, particularly when he conveyed the glad tidings of their thorough reformation.

2 Cor 7:7. And not only has he consoled us by the arrival of Titus,’ but he has consoled us by the joy and consolation which Titus himself received from you, and, infused into us—relating to us, your desire of amendment—your mourning for your sins, your affection for us, and your zeal in defending us against our maligners; so that the joy, which I felt, exceeded my sorrow for having saddened you.

The accounts which Titus gave him regarding them, and the very consolation which Titus himself derived from their change and amendment, were to the Apostle a source of still more abundant joy. “So that I rejoice the more.” These words may also mean—so that the joy I conceived at his return was increased by the cheering account he gave of you, and by his own joy. The meaning adopted in the Paraphrase accords better, however, with what follows.

2 Cor 7:8. For, notwithstanding the sorrow which I caused you by my Epistle, I do not now repent of it, seeing the fruits of this sorrow; and although I did repent of it, seeing that my Epistle caused you sorrow, even though it was to continue for a very short time:

The Apostle here excuses himself for the severity of his former Epistle, and shows the happy fruits of the sorrow which he caused them. Knowing the advantages of this sorrow, he does not regret having caused it—although, before the return of Titus, he might have felt regret at having saddened them even for the shortest time. As to the Epistle itself, as it had been inspired by the Holy Ghost, he could not regret having written it, he only regretted its saddening effect. In the Vulgate, the words, “seeing that the same Epistle,” &c., are immediately joined to the foregoing, and contain a reason for the sorrow he felt before the arrival of Titus—viz., because his Epistle should have saddened them even for a short time—etsi pæniteret, videns, quod Epistola illa (etsi ad horam) vos contristavit. But, according to the Greek, the sentence concludes at the words, “and if I did repent; “and a new sentence commences with the words, “seeing that the same Epistle,” &c., ει δε και μετεμελομην· βλεπω ὅτι ἡ επιστολη εκεινη, ει και προς ὥραν ελυπήσεν υμας. A reading, according to which, these latter words are assigned as a reason why he did not repent. “I did not repent.” Because, although his Epistle saddened them for a short time, it was still a source of permanent joy of conscience. Hence, if the Greek reading be followed, some addition must be made, thus:—“For I see that this Epistle, although it has constristated you for a time,” (has still caused you permanent joy). The words in the parenthesis are added to the text by A’Lapide. The Vulgate reading, however, seems preferable. The Apostle is rejoiced, not at their sorrow, but at its result—viz., their penance and reformation.

2 Cor 7:9. Now, I am rejoiced, not only on account of your sorrow, but also because by that sorrow you were brought to penance, unto the performance of penitential works (verse 11). For you were made sorrowful on account of the offence offered to God; so that far from receiving any detriment from our correction, you, on the contrary, have derived great profit from it.

“That you might suffer damage by us in nothing.” There is a meiosis here. The words convey more than they express; they imply not only the absence of all detriment, but even positive gain and spiritual advantage.

2 Cor 7:10. For, the sorrow, which is conceived from motives of the love and fear of God, and which is pleasing to him, begets penance, which is the cause of salvation, that is to last for ever; which penance, therefore, is never to be repented of; but the sorrow arising from the love of the world, begets eternal death.

“Steadfast.” It is not easy to see from the Greek with what words this is to be joined. The Greek is, αμεταμελητον, which is not to be repented of, and may refer it to either “salvation,” σωτηριαν, or “penance,” μετανοιαν. According to the Vulgate, it is more properly joined to “salvation,” thus:—“Working penance causing salvation which will never end.” But, according to the Greek, it is referred by many to “penance,” thus:—Worketh penance which causes salvation, and is, therefore, not to be repented of. Both meanings are united in the Paraphrase.

2 Cor 7:11. For, behold in your own case a proof of this. Your own sorrow, according to God, what effects has it not produced in you? What solicitude to appease God and remove scandals; and not only that, but it has stimulated you to enter upon an apologetic defence of your own conduct before Titus in regard to the incestuous man; still more, it has created in you a just indignation against this sinful man; and not only that, but a fear lest such crimes be again repeated; not only that, but a desire of offering satisfaction to God; not only that, but zeal against scandals; not only that, but the proper infliction of punishment on this, and other such offenders. In a word you have proved yourselves to be pure and innocent in everything connected with the shameful crime referred to.

As a proof that sorrow, according to God, worketh salutary penance, he instances its effects on themselves. He points out the seven effects which it caused in them:—“Defence” (in the Greek, apology), refers to their clearing themselves before Titus of any participation in the guilt of the incestuous man. “Desire,” may likewise mean, a desire of seeing us. “Zeal,” may also refer to their defence of himself against his enemies, the false teachers. “In the matter,” viz., the incest, he forbears mentioning it, to mark his horror of it.

This passage furnishes the clearest refutation of the erroneous notions formed by heretics with respect to penance, which, according to them, consists in mere feelings of sorrow, and a mere change of heart. For, the Apostle draws a distinction between the sorrow of heart and penance, as between cause and effect. “The sorrow according to God, worketh penance” (verse 10). Therefore, penance does not consist in mere sorrow. He also feels rejoiced, not because they were “made sorrowful” but because they were made sorrowful unto penance (verse 9). For salutary penance, therefore, more than sorrow of heart is required. Penitential works, such as the Apostle here states to be its fruits, in the Corinthians (verse 11), are necessary as its complement. Mere sorrow, unaccompanied by penitential works, ordinarily speaking, is worth nothing.

2 Cor 7:12. Therefore, although I addressed to you this letter of reproof, I did so, neither on account of him who sinned, nor of his father, the injured party, but principally to manifest the pastoral solicitude which I feel for you all before God, and to guard you against vicious contagion.

“Who suffered the wrong,” viz., the father. From this it is generally inferred, that the father of the incestuous man was still alive.

2 Cor 7:13. Having, therefore, known the success of our admonition, we have been consoled, and this consolation has been increased by the joy which Titus felt; for, his soul was refreshed by you all.

“Therefore we were comforted.” Which runs thus in the Greek: on this account we have been consoled in your consolation. The meaning does not differ from that expressed in the Vulgate, by taking the words, “your consolation,” actively, to signify the consolation you caused us. There will, then, be no difference; as the words will only convey a repitition of what he asserted before—viz., that he was consoled by the accounts which he received regarding the Corinthians, and, he adds, that the joy which Titus felt at their reformation, added to his consolation.

2 Cor 7:14. And, it added to my consolation, that if I made you in any way a subject of my boasting, I was not ashamed of it afterwards; but as all things that we spoke to you were found to be true, so have all which we spoke to Titus regarding you, been fully verified.

“As we have spoken all things to you in truth.” These words are generally-understood of the things preached to them by the Apostle, whose words were neither changeable nor inconstant (chap. 1). Others understand them as referring to the character which St. Paul gave of Titus to the Corinthians; and as they have found that the Apostle’s character of Titus was fully verified, so has Titus found the character given of them by the Apostle equally well grounded.

2 Cor 7:15. Hence, the tenderness and magnitude of his affection for you, when he calls to mind the promptness with which all of you obeyed my injunctions, and the reverential fear and respect with which he was received by you.

“His bowels.” referring to his tender affection.

2 Cor 7:16. I rejoice that I can repose confidence in your fidelity to comply with all my wishes and injunctions.

“In all things I have confidence in you.” So that I can exhort, rebuke, instruct, and propose advice on any subject. This serves as a preparation for the subject of alms-deeds, which he proposes, in the next chapter.

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Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on 2 Corinthians Chapter 6

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 12, 2019

Scripture links are to the Douay Rheims translation

In this chapter, the Apostle, as ambassador of Christ, exhorts the Corinthians to correspond with the graces bestowed on them through the Apostolic ministry; and, in order to stimulate them the more, he tells them that the present is the acceptable time referred to by the Prophet Isaias (2 Cor 6:1-2). In the next place, he recounts the virtues which distinguish both himself and his fellow-labourers, while, at the same time, he tacitly reproaches the false teachers with the total absence of these necessary virtues, so befitting every minister of the Gospel (2 Cor 6:3–11). He then apologizes for the freedom with which he thus addresses the Corinthians, by assuring them of his intense affection for them, from which alone this unreserved freedom of speech proceeded (2 Cor 6:12). He mildly reproaches them with a want of correspondence, by making a return of affection for himself (2 Cor 6:12-13). As ambassador of Christ, he exhorts them to avoid all intercourse in religion with the Pagans, and assigns several reasons of propriety and congruity for this (2 Cor 6:14–16). He finally concludes with a quotation from the Old Testament, wherein God tells his people to have nothing to do with the unclean, and, in case of compliance, holds out the promise of the highest rewards.

Text in purple indicates Fr. MacEvilly’s paraphrase of the scripture he is commenting on

2 Cor 6:1. As co-operating, therefore, with Christ in the work of your redemption, we exhort you not to receive in vain—that is, not to render unavailing—the great grace of redemption, applied to you through our ministry.

“Helping.” The Greek word, συνεργουντες, means, co-operating in the great work of redemption and reconciliation with God. “Grace of God,” viz., the great benefit of redemption and reconciliation through Christ, applied to mankind by the ministry of the Apostles. Under it are included the particular graces necessary to attain the great end of redemption. “In vain”; rendering it useless and of no avail to you for want of due correspondence.

2 Cor 6:2. For, God has promised, through his Prophet Isaiah (Isa 49:8), that in an accepted time, he would hear his Son praying for the salvation of the world; and, that in the day of salvation he would assist him, while labouring in the same cause. Behold, now is the acceptable time referred to by the Prophet; now is the day of salvation, of which you should avail yourselves.

For the purpose of conveying a stronger inducement to the Corinthians to correspond the more faithfully with divine grace, and to attend to their salvation, he says that the present is the time of grace and salvation referred to by the Prophet, Isaiah (Isa 49:8). These words of the Prophet are generally understood to have been spoken by the Eternal Father to his Son, promising that at a future day, at a time acceptable to all, and to be desired by them, when he was to call the Gentiles to the faith, he would listen to his prayers in their behalf, and assist him in the work of salvation. The prophetic quotation is read in the past tense, although it has a future signification, a thing not unusual in prophetic writings. “Behold now is the acceptable time referred to by the prophet,” “now is the day,” &c. The fulfilment of this promise has been reserved for the time of the New Law, which may be justly termed, the law of grace.

2 Cor 6:3. While co-operating with God in the work of your redemption (verse 1); we take care to give no cause whatever for offence to any person, lest our ministry should be brought into disrepute or censure of any kind.

“Giving no offence,” &c. (In Greek, μὴδεμίαν ἐν μηδενὶ διδόντες προσκοπήν, giving no offence in anything). This verse is to be immediately connected with verse 1; and verse 2 is to be read in a parenthesis. “We co-operating,” &c., verse 1 (…), and “giving no offence to any one,” lest by any irregularity of life, or any conduct unbecoming our state, our ministry should be brought into disrepute and rendered useless, “exhort you,” verse 1. The first duty which every minister of religion owes himself and the gospel is, to avoid scandal of every kind; otherwise, his preaching will be as contemptible, as his life. “That our ministry.” In Greek, ἡ διακονία, that the ministry.

2 Cor 6:4. But rather, in all things, we commend and exhibit ourselves to men as becomes the ministers of Christ, in the exercise of much patience, in enduring daily and ordinary wants, in grievous necessities, in anguish and trials of the most distressing nature.

In the next place, he must not only be irreprehensible, but, a pattern of all virtues. “Let us exhibit.” In Greek, συνιστανοντες, exhibiting ourselves, i.e., commending ourselves in everything as becomes the ministers of Christ. “In much patience.” He particularizes the instance in which patience is to be practised, viz., “in tribulation,” i.e., ordinary wants.—(See Paraphrase). These three instances, in which patience is to be exercised, increase in intensity. “Distresses” are more severe than “necessities,” and the latter more severe than “tribulations.”

2 Cor 6:5. In enduring stripes, in chains and imprisonment, in tumults of the people stirred up everywhere against us, in sustaining labours for the preaching of the gospel, in want of rest and sleep, in fasting, whether voluntarily undertaken, or resulting from want and necessity.

Under “stripes” is included stoning. “Seditions” refer to tumults of the people driving the Apostles from place to place.

2 Cor 6:6. We exhibit ourselves, as becomes the ministers of Christ, in purity of mind and body, in the knowledge of the truths of faith, and in the power of explaining them by human examples—in the exercise of lenity towards those who offend us—in an accommodating sweetness of temper and of manners—in a line of conduct which will manifest and display the gifts of the Holy Ghost—in unfeigned and efficient love of our neighbour.

“In “chastity.” i.e., purity of mind and body. This is the precious ornament of the Christian priesthood. By many divines it is assigned as a mark of the true Church, inasmuch as it is never practised among heretics, nor can it; because the persevering practice and preservation of this amiable virtue is most difficult, and requires the continual aids of divine grace, which grace is principally imparted through the sacrament of Penance and the Holy Eucharist, of which those outside the Church are totally bereft.

“In knowledge.” This word bears the same signification here as in 1 Cor 12, viz., the faculty of explaining the truths of faith by examples derived from human things. A knowledge of the sacred sciences, viz., Scripture—Theology, Dogmatic, Moral, and Ascetic—should ornament the Christian minister. “The lips of the priest should guard knowledge.” “If he repel knowledge, God will repel him.”

“Sweetness.” That urbanity of manners which accommodates itself to the wants and dispositions of all. “In the Holy Ghost,” i.e., in the manifestation of all the gifts of the Holy Ghost. “In charity,” &c. In sincere charity and love of our neighbour, manifesting itself not only in word, but in work and in truth.

2 Cor 6:7. In preaching the pure, unadulterated word and holy truths of God, which derive their efficacy from the divine power; by being girt with the armour of justice both on the right and on the left, i.e., in making prosperity and adversity the instruments of virtue.

“In the word of truth.” The words, exhibiting ourselves, &c. (verse 4), are here continued. We exhibit ourselves in preaching God’s word unadulterated and unalloyed. “In the power of God.” These words are generally connected with “the word of truth,” thus—which word derives its efficacy from the power of God, who alone can impart and increase. Some commentators understand “virtue,” or “power of God,” to refer to the gift of miracles.

“Armour of justice on the right hand and on the left.” By “right and left,” are generally understood prosperity and adversity, which the Apostles made the arms or instruments of justice. Prosperity, the season for exercising humility and moderation; adversity, the season for patience and fortitude. “Justice” denotes, in a general manner, the practice of the different Christian virtues.

2 Cor 6:8. We pursue a course of virtue, as well when despised, as when honour is rendered to us, when men speak ill, as when they speak well of us. We are regarded by many as impostors, teaching errors; but unjustly, since we are faithful heralds of God’s truth. By many we are regarded as contemptible and obscure, but still, we are known and prized by God, who values our ministry.

We exhibit ourselves as ministers of God (verse 4). (These words are understood in the different members of these sentences). “By honour and dishonour,” by practising the several virtues suggested and dictated by each kind of treatment. These are the arms of justice, on the right and on the left.

2 Cor 6:9. Our death is regarded as always inevitable, owing to the risks we run, and still, through God’s interposition, we live. We are publicly chastised, and still, we are not put to death.

“Dying;” owing to continual exposure to the most imminent risks. “Chastised,” by being whipped with scourges. Still, they are “not killed,” because God interposes to save them.

2 Cor 6:10. In consequence of the many evils we endure, we are regarded as sorrowful; still, we interiorly rejoice in the Lord. We are considered to be poor and needy; and still, we enrich many. We appear like men destitute of everything; and still, we possess all things in Christ.

“Needy;” owing to their renunciation of all temporal possessions. “Enriching many,” with spiritual blessings, and also with alms collected for them among the faithful. “As having nothing”; no dominion over property. “Possessing all things”; all they wish for are the necessaries of life, with which God supplies them. They possess all things, as to use, just as much as if they were their real owners. Moreover, they possess all things in God, in whom every good is eminently contained. It is deserving of remark, that in recounting the several virtues practised both by himself and his colleagues, the Apostle marks out a line of conduct which all future ministers of the gospel should pursue, after his own example. He, at the same time, indirectly strikes at the false teachers, by insinuating that their lives were distingnished by none of those apostolic virtues.

2 Cor 6:11. We enter on this recital of our virtues and sufferings, solely from motives of the purest friendship and affection; for, O Corinthians! our mouth is opened to communicate to you freely and unreservedly our thoughts. Our heart is dilated from the vehemence of our affection for you.

He excuses himself for having enumerated the several virtues practised by himself and his colleagues in the ministry, and says, he did so from no motive of self-praise, but from pure affection—from a wish to communicate to them freely his thoughts and the overflowing feelings of his heart, as friends are wont to treat with friends. He also, in expressing his affection for them, wishes that they would take in good part the reproach which he is about addressing to them (verse 14), for holding intercourse with the Pagans.

2 Cor 6:12. You are not straitened, you rather hold a spacious place, in our heart and affections, but you do not fully correspond with our feelings, as your bowels are contracted in your affection for us.

While his bowels are enlarged and his heart dilated to give them all a spacious place in his affections, they, on their part, are wanting in a return of the like generosity towards him. It is likely, that the insinuations of the false teachers, as well as his own stern rebukes, and his denunciations of their prevalent vices, had estranged many of the Corinthians from the Apostle.

2 Cor 6:13. But in order to make a return of mutual love for us—I speak to you as to my beloved children—become enlarged in your affection for us, as we feel towards you.

In this verse, he exhorts them to enlarge the bowels of their affection for him, as he had done for them. “Having the same recompense.” The Greek is, την δε αυτην αντιμισθίαν, according to the same recompense—κατα, is understood—by making a return of the same love and affection which I have for you.

2 Cor 6:14. Bear not the same yoke with unbelievers. For, what agreement can there be between justice and injustice? What fellowship or commerce can exist between light and darkness?

The Apostle, as ambassador of Christ, cautions the Corinthians against a practice dangerous alike to their faith and morals—viz., that of contracting very intimate engagements with infidels. It would appear that he alludes particularly to inter-marriages with the Pagans. He cautions the faithful against contracting new marriages with them. As to the marriages already contracted, he disposed of that question (1 Cor 7:13); and the diriment impediment, disparitas cultus, was not instituted for six centuries after this period. The yoke, then, which he dissuades them from bearing with the infidels—a yoke of disparity, as the Greek word, ετεροζυγουντες, implies—is the contracting any close engagements with them, such as would endanger their faith or morals, particularly, the most lasting of all engagements, that of marriage. This prohibition he grounds on the inequality that exists between both parties, and the incompatibility of their union. On the one side, are Christ, justice, light, faithful, temple of God; on the other, Belial, iniquity, darkness, unbeliever, idols—things in themselves perfectly opposed and incompatible.

2 Cor 6:15. What concord can there exist between Christ and Belial? Or what communion can there be between a believer and an unbeliever?

No commentary is offered in this verse.

2 Cor 6:16. Or what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? For, you are the temple of the living God, as God himself testifies in the Holy Scriptures:—“I shall dwell in them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they, in turn, shall be the people specially consecrated to me.”

In this verse he undertakes to prove, from the 26th chapter of Leviticus, that the Christians are the temples of God. The passage quoted here, literally regarded the tabernacle or portable temple of the Jews: of it, God says—“I will place my tabernacle in the midst of you, and my soul shall not cast you off. I will be to your God,” &c.—(Lev 24:11-12). The Apostle quotes the passage with a change of the second person into the third. “I will dwell in them, their God: they, my people.” The words express the special protection which God meant to extend to the Jewish people, and, in a more particular way, to the spiritual Israel of the New Law. In their mystical, or allegorical sense, they refer to the soul of the just man, which is a kind of movable temple of God.

2 Cor 6:17. Wherefore, go out from the midst of the profane and separate yourselves from all intercourse with them, and be not polluted by their uncleanness.

He grounds the prohibition, secondly, on the precept given to the Israelites, to fly the impurities of the Babylonians.—(Isa 52:2). For, if it were imperatively enjoined on the Jews to fly any intimate association with the Pagans of Babylon, much more obligatory is it on the Christians of Corinth, called to a higher state of sanctity, to shun all dangerous communications with Pagans, of still more corrupt and dissolute morals.

2 Cor 6:18. And should you do so, I will not leave you desolate or devoid of all comfort. I shall be to you a father, and you shall hold the place of sons and daughters with me, saith the Lord Almighty.

It is not well ascertained from what part of Scripture the words of this verse are quoted. They are generally referred to chapter 30 of Jeremiah. Others refer them to chapter 43 of Isaiah. From whatever place taken, they certainly refer to the adoption of the children of the New Testament, and both sexes are referred to, “sons and daughters,” because, both sexes are concerned in the intermarriages with the Pagans, the abuse particularly referred to by the Apostle in this passage.

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Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on 2 Corinthians Chapter 5

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 12, 2019

Scripture links are to the Douay Rheeims translation

In the first part of this chapter, the Apostle proceeds to account for his own cheerful intrepidity, as well as that of his colleagues, in the midst of dangers and persecutions. It proceeds from the consideration of their future glory, from their firm belief in the future glorification of their bodies (2 Cor 5:1), which glory they are anxious to have imparted to them without bodily dissolution, as nature recoils so strongly from death (2 Cor 5:2-4). But bearing in mind, that it is God who fits them for future glory, of which he has given them a sure earnest, they have great courage and confidence in undergoing all hardships for the Gospel with the hope of arriving at this supreme felicity (2 Cor 5:5–9), to attain which they endeavour, under all circumstances to please God; and keeping before their eyes his tremendous judgement, they so act as to prove to men their sincerity, lest they should be a stumbling-block or a scandal to anyone (2 Cor 5:10-11). He guards against the misconstruction which the false teachers might put upon the circumstance of his praising himself, by an assurance that whether he praises or speaks humbly of his own exploits—he has, in both cases, the glory of God and his neighbour’s good in view (2 Cor 5:12-13). He is moved to pursue this disinterested line of conduct by the example of Christ, whose purchased slaves we are all become by Redemption, who has, therefore, a right to all our services (2 Cor 5:14-15). Hence, the Apostles, dead to themselves and living only to Christ, regard no one, not even the Redeemer himself, from human considerations; but they regard all from the highest spiritual motives (2 Cor 5:16). This should not be peculiar to the Apostles, as every Christian, after having entered on his new spiritual existence, should do the same (2 Cor 5:17). He refers the merit of all these blessings resulting from our new spiritual existence, to their true source, viz., God, who made us sharers in them by having reconciled us with himself (2 Cor 5:18). He explains the mode in which this reconciliation was effected (2 Cor 5:19). He points out the exalted dignity of the ministers of religion (2 Cor 5:20); and, lastly, assigns a new reason for confidently expecting reconciliation with God, founded on the death of Christ.

Text in purple indicates Fr. MacEvilly’s paraphrase of the scripture he is commenting on

2 Cor 5:1. For, we assuredly know by faith, that when this body of earth, in which the soul dwells for a time, as in a temporary abode or tabernacle, is dissolved by death, we shall have a lasting dwelling from God, viz., a spiritual body given us in the resurrection, unlike the works of art made to last but for a time, this body is not made by human hands, but by the power of God himself.

“For,” connects the following with the foregoing. The Apostle assigns a reason why he and his colleagues undervalue temporal things, and regard not passing and momentary tribulations. He wishes to point out the future glory that awaits us, both as regards body and soul.

“Of this habitation.” In Greek, τοῦ σκηνους, of this tabernacle, implying that as a tabernacle is only a temporary abode, so the body, in its mortal state, is to be the tenement of the soul only for a time. “A building of God,” in Greek, εκ θεοῦ, Vulgate, ex Deo, “from God,” by which is commonly understood, the body in its glorified state after the resurrection; for it is by the hopes of the glory of the resurrection, the Apostles were encouraged to labour manfully in the work of the gospel, and to it he refers (verse 14) of preceding chapter. This interpretation derives great probability from (verse 3), where the same idea is more fully developed.

2 Cor 5:2. For, on account of the necessity of this dissolution from which nature recoils, we groan, anxiously longing for this heavenly habitation; desiring to be clothed with the glorious qualities of a heavenly glorified body, as with a garment, without being subjected to the pains of dissolution.

“In this,” that is, on this account, viz., on account of the necessity of the dissolution of our bodies—from which we naturally recoil—before they can be clothed with the qualities of a glorious immortality; others understand the words, “in this,” to mean, in this body or earthly domicile, we sigh after immortality, wishing to be invested with it, as with a garment. There are two metaphors involved in this passage—one derived from a house, another, from a garment.

2 Cor 5:3. We shall receive the properties of glorified bodies in this way, provided, at the coming of our Lord, we are found vested with our bodies and not separated from them.

“Yet so,” &c., i.e., we shall be invested with a glorious immortality in this way, without dissolution, if we be among those who shall be found alive on the day of judgment; because, as the death of such persons will last for only a very short time, they may be said to be vested with a glorious immortality without dissolution, and the Apostle in all his Epistles treats of the day of judgment as near, because it virtually takes place for all at death. Others understand this verse, thus; if clothed with grace, we are not found devoid of charity and good works.

2 Cor 5:4. For while we are in this tabernacle of clay, oppressed with its weight, we groan for our state of incorruptibility, not that we wish to arrive at this state, through the dissolution of this moral body, but to be clothed and invested with it in such a way as that the mortality of this present body would be absorbed by immortal life, that from being mortal, the same would become immortal.

He repeats, in different words, the idea conveyed in the preceding verses. While in this tabernacle, we sigh for a glorious immortality, being oppressed with the weight of our present body—not that we wish for it at the expense of dissolution, but only in such a way as to be invested with it, without the intervention of death, so that the mortal be absorbed by immortal life.

2 Cor 5:5. But it is God, who fits us for this heavenly domicile, and who has given us the abundant gifts of his Holy Spirit, as a sure earnest of a happy and glorious immortality.

He ascribes to the grace of God all the merit of the ministry by which he is fitted for immortality, and God has increased our hope by the pledge of future glory which he has given us. “That maketh.” (In Greek, κατεργασαμενος; that hath made).

2 Cor 5:6. Having, therefore, this firm faith, and sure earnest of future glory, we cheerfully undergo all sufferings in the cause of the gospel, knowing that as long as we are in the body, we are sojourners from the Lord.

In consequence of the sure earnest of God’s spirit in our hearts, we always act with courage and cheerfulness under crosses and afflictions—the most secure road of safely arriving at our end—knowing that while we are in this body, we are sojourners from the Lord; we, therefore, hasten towards that country of which we are enrolled as citizens, and in which is our everlasting inheritance.

2 Cor 5:7. (For, in this life we are tending towards our heavenly country, guided by the obscure and glimmering light of faith; but we have not yet arrived at the enjoyment of the clear and intuitive vision of God).

This verse is to be included in a parenthesis—(see Paraphrase).

2 Cor 5:8. We have, I say, courage cheerfully to undergo all sufferings for the gospel, and we regard it as a blessing to be absent from the body, and present with the Lord to enjoy his vision.

He continues the subject digressed from in the preceding verse: We have courage, I say, under adversity, and we even prefer to be freed from the body to remaining in it, and thus to enjoy God’s beatific vision.

2 Cor 5:9. And therefore, we exert our utmost might, whether absent or present in the body, to be pleasing and acceptable to him.

If while here “present” in the body, we merit heavenly bliss, and please God, we shall please Him hereafter, when “absent” from the body; we shall be objects always pleasing in His sight, and we shall merit that this happiness be not taken from us for eternity.

2 Cor 5:10. For we must all, without exception, stand before the judgment seat of Christ, the Supreme Judge of all, and have our deeds then publicly manifested and exposed, so that each one may receive either the reward or punishment due to him, conformably to the life which he led in the body, according as that life was good or wicked.

In this verse is given a reason why we should always endeavour to please God; because we must all stand and be examined before the judgment seat of Christ, to whom the Father has transferred all judgment, and whom he has constituted Judge of the living and of the dead. In this judgment, five circumstances are here noticed by the Apostle:—First, it is to be universal—“we all.” Second, inevitable—“we must.” Third, clear and evident, exposing both interior actions and intentions; and hence a source of shame and confusion—“be manifested.” Fourth, irrevocable, as occurring before a supreme Judge, Christ—“before the judgment seat of Christ.” Fifth, most just; being grounded on all the actions, thoughts, &c., of our entire life, “according as he hath done.” What a subject of most serious reflection!

“The proper things of the body.” In Greek, τα δια τοῦ σώματος, the things by the body. The Vulgate interpreters read, ιδια τοῦ σώματος, propria corporis, the reading of Origen.

2 Cor 5:11. Keeping, therefore, always before our eyes this fearful judgment of the Lord, we endeavour to convince men of the sincerity of our ministry and profession, lest we should be a scandal or an impediment to any one; and as to God, our sincerity is perfectly known to him, and I trust, that to your consciences too, it will be perfectly manifest, notwith standing the malicious insinuations of the false teachers.

“Fear of the Lord”—“fear”; the effect is put for the judgment which causes it. “We use persuasion to men,” to avoid scandalizing the weakness, or obstructing in any way the progress of the Gospel; for, as to God, the searcher of hearts, to him the fulness of our sincerity is already clear and evident.

2 Cor 5:12. We do not speak thus, with the view of again commending ourselves to you, and of gaining your good will (as had been charged upon us), but with the view of affording you an opportunity of glorying in us, and of furnishing you with some answer against those who feel elated from external accomplishments, without any real interior virtue wherein to glory.

The Apostle here takes precaution against a repetition of the charge made against him by the false teachers (see 2 Cor 3:1), and removes all grounds for the misconstruction of his words. His motive in referring to his past good works is, to afford the Corinthians a subject for glorifying in him, as their true Apostle, and a means of reply against the false teachers, who were in the habit of boasting of mere external advantages, such as learning, riches, worldly connections, &c.; but, were prevented by their private deeds of shame (2 Cor 4:2) from boasting of acts of virtue, or of purity of heart and conscience.

2 Cor 5:13. We do nothing on our own account merely; for whether by speaking in praise of ourselves, and of our actions, we appear to be insanely transported in mind, it is for the glory of God we do so; or whether by speaking in terms of lowliness of ourselves, we act like men in their sober senses, it is for your sakes, to give you an example of modesty and humility.

Whether he praises himself at one time, or speaks in terms of modesty and humility of his actions at another, he does neither on his own account; on each occasion, he has the glory of God, or the edification of his neighbour in view. “Transported in mind,” when praising himself; for it is the mark of a madman or of a fool, to be speaking commendably of himself. “It is to God;” it is to glorify God who is the author of every good gift in us. “Be sober,” like men in their senses, who speak modestly of themselves; “it is for you,” to give them an example of modesty and humility.

2 Cor 5:14. The gratuitous and excessive love of Christ for us, urges us to pursue such a disinterested line of conduct, considering this, that if one man has died to save all from eternal death; therefore, all were spiritually dead (and his death for all shows the extent of the benefit conferred).

The gratuitous, disinterested love of Christ, who did nothing to please himself, non sibi placuit (Rom 15:3), constrains the Apostles to follow the same disinterested course, having God’s glory and the neighbour’s salvation always in view. “Judging this,” &c. He adds this to show the magnitude of the benefit of Redemption; and to point out the excess of the love of Christ, which “pressed” the Apostle. What a strong exhortation to labour unceasingly for the salvation of our brethren! If Christ died for all, why should not we give our lives for our brethren?

2 Cor 5:15. And also bearing in mind, that Christ has died for all; so that those who now live, are bound to his service in such a way, as to live no longer for themselves, but for him who has died and has risen for their sakes. (Hence, we should live solely for the service of our Redeemer, whose ransomed slaves we are).

“And Christ died for all.” We have not the word “Christ” in the Greek; it is, however, understood. “That they who live,” &c. Besides the motive of Redemption and ransom, Christ in his death also wished to teach us, that we should devote our life to his service; since, as ransomed slaves, we owe all our actions to the master and Lord who purchased us.

2 Cor 5:16. Wherefore, since we, Apostles, have become Christians, and dying to ourselves have begun to live to Christ, we have regarded in no man earthly or carnal considerations; and if at anytime we have known and loved Christ from human motives, we do so no longer, but from purer and more exalted spiritual motives, we adore and serve him.

“Henceforth,” that is, since we, Apostles, began to live a new life imparted to us in Christianity. “According to the flesh,” i.e., regarding in them merely human considerations (v.g.), because Jews or Gentiles, learned or unlearned, kinsmen or strangers. “And if we have known Christ,” &c., that is, if from the beginning of our conversion, we regarded in Christ the human consideration of being a fellow-countryman, or of being of Jewish extraction. “But now,” &c., we have been no longer guided by such consideration, we have begun to love and adore him from higher and more spiritual motives. Some understand this of the other Apostles, while living with Christ here on earth; for St. Paul was not a follower of His until after the Ascension. It may refer to St. Paul himself at the commencement of his conversion, for he had not wholly divested himself of human feelings, or of an over zeal for everything Jewish, at once.

2 Cor 5:17. This is not peculiar to us, Apostles, but if any person has been regenerated with us in Christ, let him know that he is a new creature, he has received a new existence; for him the old have passed away, behold all things are made new for him (hence, he should lead a new life, conformably to the new spiritual existence which he has received).

“If then any be in Christ a new creature.” The Greek, ει τις εν Χριστῳ καινη κτισις, might be translated, if any be in Christ, he is a new creature. It is not peculiar to the Apostles to enter on a new life in accordance with the object of Christ’s death and resurrection (verse 15), but every Christian, every man who has been baptized, has received a new spiritual existence, to which his actions should conform, by living solely for him who died and rose again for him. “Old things are passed away,” i.e., the passions, inordinate affections of the old, unregenerate man should no longer domineer over him. They are dead to the things of the flesh. “Behold all things are made new.” These words are, according to St. Thomas and Cajetan, mystically allusive to, Isa 43:18-19. They are illustrative of the “new creature,” and express, the newness of faith, justice and sanctity, as opposed to unbelief, sin, and immorality. They also convey an allusion to the total renovation of redeemed human nature, both as to soul and body, and to the new heavens and the new earth, the destined abode of the Saints, in which justice is to dwell.

2 Cor 5:18. But all this renewed spiritual existence, with its accompanying gifts, are from God, the author of all good gifts, who has admitted us, his enemies, by sin into his friendship, through the merits of Christ, and has constituted us the ministers of his reconciliation with others.

“To himself by Christ.” (In the common Greek, by Christ Jesus; “Jesus” is not in the Codex Vaticanus). All these spiritual blessings resulting from our new existence should be referred to God, as their real author. This new existence is the result of our reconciliation with God, and God himself is the author of this reconciliation or his enemies with him, which, through the merits of Christ, and through the ministry of reconciliation, he has perpetuated in his Apostles and the pastors of his Church to the end of time.

2 Cor 5:19. For God has reconciled a sinful world to himself through Christ, gratuitously remitting their sins, and to us he has intrusted the preaching’ of this reconciliation with others.

In this verse, is explained and developed more fully the idea expressed in the preceding. He reconciled the world through Christ, by gratuitously remitting their sins in consideration of the ransom which he paid for them, and by bestowing on them his sanctifying grace which he gratuitously, merited for them. This passage furnishes no argument in favour of the heretical doctrine of imputative justice. For, the Apostle only considers one circumstance of our reconciliation, namely—the remission of our sins on the part of God. But from other sources we know that this remission is effected by the infusion of sanctifying grace. By this grace sin is really remitted; otherwise, how could God, who hates iniquity, regard with complacency, or repute as just the man who really remains in the mire and filth of sin? He has constituted the Apostles ministers of announcing this great blessing of reconciliation.

2 Cor 5:20. We, Apostles, are, therefore, in the place of Christ, the ambassadors of God with man. Our exhortations and entreaties, to you to return to penance, should be regarded by you, as emanating from God himself. In the name of Christ, therefore, and in his person, we beseech you to become reconciled to God, mindful of his infinite mercy.

We, Apostles, are ambassadors, of Christ; hence, when we exhort or encourage you, it is the same as if this were done by Christ himself; because Christ speaks through us. “For Christ,” i.e., in the name and person of Christ, “we beseech you,” &c. The ministers of the gospel are, then, the ambassadors of Christ. With what reverence and respect are they not, therefore, to be treated, when acting in this capacity. The respect or contempt shown them is shown to Christ himself, by whom they are sent, and in whose name and authority they act. Whosoever touches them might as well touch the apple of his eye. On the other hand, with what circumspection should not the ministers of religion walk, and how cautious should they not be to avoid the least offence, that might mar or obstruct the interests of him by whom they were sent. What sanctity of life should they not practise, both in the presence of God and before men, in order to be fit representatives, before men, of their heavenly Master.

2 Cor 5:21. A reason for seeking and confidently hoping for reconciliation with God, is grounded on his infinite benignity and mercy in making his Son, who had as little commerce with sin, as if he were utterly ignorant of its nature, a victim of sin for us, that through him we might receive real and inherent justice, being made sharers in God’s justice by the infusion of sanctifying grace.

In this verse is assigned a motive to inspire us with confidence in seeking and hoping for reconciliation with God, viz., because he made his Son, who had no experimental knowledge of sin, or who had no more knowledge of it than if he knew not what it was. “Sin,” i.e., a victim of sin, according to the Scripture usage, which often uses the word “sin” to express the victim for sin, (v.g.) Hos 4:8; Lev 4:24. “That we might be made,” &c., i.e., that we might be made really and internally just, by a justice like the justice of God, of which we are rendered, by sanctifying grace, sharers through his merits.

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