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St John Chrysostom’s Homiletic Commentary on 2 Corinthians 4:8-5:10

Posted by Dim Bulb on May 27, 2018

The following post consists of St John Chrysostom’s 9th and 10th homilies on 2 Corinthians.

HOMILY IX

2 Cor. 4:8-18

We are pressed on every side, yet not straitened; perplexed, yet not unto despair; pursued, yet not forsaken.

He still dwells upon proving that the whole work is to be ascribed to the power of God, repressing the high-mindedness of those that glory in themselves. ‘For not this only,’ saith he, ‘is marvelous, that we keep this treasure in earthen vessels, but that even when enduring ten thousand hardships, and battered1 on every side, we [still] preserve and lose it not. Yet though there were a vessel of adamant, it would neither have been strong enough to carry so vast a treasure, nor have sufficed against so many machinations; yet, as it is, it both bears it and suffers no harm, through God’s grace.’ For, “we are pressed on every side,” saith he, “but not straitened.” What is, “on every side?”

‘In respect of our foes, in respect of our friends, in respect of necessaries, in respect of other needs, by them which be hostile, by them of our own household.’ “Yet not straitened.” And see how he speaks contrarieties, that thence also he may show the strength of God. For, “we are pressed on every side, yet not straitened,” saith he; “perplexed, yet not unto despair;” that is, ‘we do not quite fall off. For we are often, indeed, wrong in our calculations2, and miss our aim, yet not so as to fall away from what is set before us: for these things are permitted by God for our discipline, not for our defeat.’

Ver. 9. “Pursued, yet not forsaken; smitten down, yet not destroyed.”

For these trials do indeed befal, but not the consequences of the trials. And this indeed through the power and Grace of God. In other places indeed he says that these things were permitted in order both to their own3 humble-mindedness, and to the safety of others: for “that I should not be exalted overmuch, there was given to me a thorn,” (2 Cor. 12:7; ib. 6) he says: and again, “Lest any man should account of me above that which he seeth me to be, or heareth from me;” and in another place again, “that we should not trust in ourselves:” (2 Cor. 1:9) here, however, that the power of God might be manifested. Seest thou how great the gain of his trials? For it both showed the power of God, and more disclosed His grace. For, saith He, “My grace is sufficient for thee.” (2 Cor. 12:9) It also anointed them unto lowliness of mind, and prepared them for keeping down the rest, and made them to be more hardy. “For patience,” saith he, “worketh probation, and probation hope.” (Rom. 5:4) For they who had fallen into ten thousand dangers and through the hope they had in God had been recovered4, were taught to hold by it more and more in all things.

Ver. 10. “Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus may be manifested in our body.”

And what is the “dying of the Lord Jesus,” which they bare about? Their daily deaths by which also the resurrection was showed. ‘For if any believe not,’ he says, ‘that Jesus died and rose again, beholding us every day die and rise again, let him believe henceforward in the resurrection.’ Seest thou how he has discovered yet another reason for the trials? What then is this reason? “That his life also may be manifested in our body.” He says, ‘by snatching us out of the perils. So that this which seems a mark of weakness and destititution, this, [I say,] proclaims His resurrection. For His power had not so appeared in our suffering no unpleasantness, as it is now shown in our suffering indeed, but without being overcome.’

Ver. 11. “For we which live are also5 delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus may be manifested in us in our mortal flesh.”

For every where when he has said any thing obscure, he interprets himself again. So he has done here also, giving a clear interpretation of this which I have cited. ‘For therefore, “we are delivered,” ’ he says, ‘in other words, we bear about His dying that the power of His life may be made manifest, who permitteth not mortal flesh, though undergoing so great sufferings, to be overcome by the snowstorm of these calamities.’ And it may be taken too in another way. How? As he says in another place, “If we die with him, we shall also live with Him.” (2 Tim. 2:11) ‘For as we endure His dying now, and choose whilst living to die for His sake: so also will he choose, when we are dead, to beget us then unto life. For if we from life come into death, He also will from death lead us by the hand into life.’

Ver. 12. “So then death worketh in us, but life in you.”

Speaking no more of death in the strict sense6, but of trials and of rest. ‘For we indeed,’ he says, ‘are in perils and trials, but ye in rest; reaping the life which is the fruit of these perils. And we indeed endure the dangerous, but ye enjoy the good things; for ye undergo not so great trials.’

[2.] Ver. 13. “But having the same spirit of faith, according to that which is written, I believed, and therefore did I speak; we also believe, and therefore also we speak; that7 He which raised up the Lord Jesus, shall raise up us also by Jesus.” (Ps. 116:10)

He has reminded us of a Psalm which abounds in heavenly wisdom8, and is especially fitted to encourage9 in dangers. For this saying that just man uttered when he was in great dangers, and from which there was no other possibility of recovery than by the aid of God. Since then kindred circumstances are most effective in comforting, therefore he says, “having the same Spirit;” that is, ‘by the same succor by which he was saved, we also are saved; by the Spirit through which he spake, we also speak.’ Whence he shows, that between the New and Old Covenants great harmony exists, and that the same Spirit wrought in either; and that not we alone are in dangers, but all those of old were so too; and that we must find a remedy10 through faith and hope, and not seek at once to be released from what is laid upon us. For having showed by arguments the resurrection and the life, and that the danger was not a mark of helplessness or destitution; he thenceforward brings in faith also, and to it commits the whole. But still of this also, he furnishes a proof, the resurrection, namely, of Christ, saying, “we also believe, and therefore also we speak.” What do we believe? tell me.

Ver. 14, 15. “That He which raised up Jesus, shall raise up also11, and shall present us with you. For all things are for your sakes, that the grace, being multiplied through the many, may cause the thanksgiving to abound unto the glory of God.”

Again, he fills them with lofty thoughts12, that they may not hold themselves indebted to men, I mean to the false Apostles. For the whole is of God Who willeth to bestow upon many, so that the grace may appear the greater. For your sakes, therefore, was the resurrection and all the other things. For He did not these things for the sake of one only, but of all.

Ver. 16. “Wherefore we faint not; but though our outward man is decaying, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.”

How does it decay? Being scourged, being persecuted, suffering ten thousand extremities. “Yet the inward man is renewed day by day.” How is it renewed? By faith, by hope, by a forward will, finally, by braving those extremities. For in proportion as the body suffers ten thousand things, in the like proportion hath the soul goodlier hopes and becometh brighter, like gold refined in the fire more and more. And see how he brings to nothing the sorrows of this present life.

Ver. 17, 18. “For the13 light affliction,” he saith, “which is for the moment, worketh14 more and more exceedingly an eternal weight of glory; while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen.”

Having closed the question by a reference to hope, (and, as he said in his Epistle to the Romans, “We are saved by hope, but hope that is seen is not hope;” (Rom. 8:24) establishing the same point here also,) he sets side by side the things present with the things to come, the momentary with the eternal, the light with the weighty, the affliction with the glory. And neither is he content with this, but he addeth another expression, doubling it and saying, “more and more exceedingly15.” Next he also shows the mode how so great afflictions are light. How then light? “While we look not at the things that are seen, but at the things that are not seen.” So will both this present be light and that future great, if we withdraw ourselves from the things that are seen. “For the things that are seen are temporal.” (v. 18) Therefore the afflictions are so too. “But the things that are not seen are eternal.” Therefore the crowns are so also. And he said not the afflictions are so, but “the things that are seen;” all of them, whether punishment or rest, so that we should be neither puffed up by the one nor overborne16 by the other. And therefore when speaking of the things to come, he said not the kingdom is eternal; but, “the things which are not seen are eternal,” whether they be a kingdom, or again punishment; so as both to alarm by the one and to encourage by the other.

[3.] Since then “the things that are seen are temporal, but the things that are not seen are eternal,” let us look to them. For what excuse even can we have, if we choose the temporal instead of the eternal? For even if the present be pleasurable, yet it is not abiding; whilst the woe it entails is abiding and irremissible. For what excuse will they have who have been counted worthy of the Spirit and have enjoyed so great a gift, if they become of grovelling mind and fall down to the earth. For I hear many saying these words worthy of all scorn, ‘Give me to-day and take tomorrow.’ ‘For,’ saith one, ‘if indeed there be such things there as ye affirm, then it is one for one; but if there be no such thing at all, then it is two for nothing.’ What can be more lawless than these words? or what more idle prating17? We are discoursing about Heaven and those unspeakable good things; and thou bringest forth unto us the terms of the race-course18, yet art not ashamed nor hidest thy face, whilst uttering such things as befit maniacs? Blushest thou not that art so rivetted to the present things? Wilt thou not cease from being distraught and beside thyself, and in youth a dotard? Were Greeks indeed to talk in this way, it were no marvel: but that believers should vent such dotage, of what forgiveness doth it admit? For dost thou hold those immortal hopes in utter suspicion? Dost thou think these things to be utterly doubtful? And in what are these things deserving of pardon? ‘And who hath come,’ saith one, ‘and brought back word what is there?’ Of men indeed not any one, but God, more trustworthy than all, hath declared these things. But thou beholdest not what is there. Neither dost thou see God. Wilt thou then deny that there is a God, because thou seest Him not? ‘Yes,’ he replies, ‘I firmly believe there is a God.’ If then an infidel should ask thee, ‘And who came from Heaven and brought back word of this?’ what wilt thou answer? Whence dost thou know that there is a God? ‘From the things that are seen,’ he answers, ‘from the fair order existing through the whole creation, from its being manifest to all.’ Therefore receive also in the same way the doctrine of the judgment. ‘How?’ he asks. I will question thee, and do thou answer me. Is this God just, and will He render to each according to his deserving? or, on the contrary, doth He will the wicked should live happily and in luxury, and the good in the contrary things? ‘By no means,’ he answers, ‘for man even would not feel thus.’ Where then shall they who have done virtuously here, enjoy the things that be good? and where the wicked the opposites, except there is to be a life and retribution hereafter? Seest thou that at present it is one for one, and not two for one. But I will show thee, as I proceed, that it is not even one against one, but it shall be for the righteous two for nothing; and for the sinners and those that live here riotously, quite the contrary. For they that have lived riotously here have received not even one for one; but those who pass their life in virtue two for nothing19. For who are at in rest, they that have abused this present life, or they that followed heavenly wisdom? Perhaps thou wilt say the former, but I prove it of the latter, summoning for my witnesses those very men that have enjoyed these present things; and they will not be so shameless as to deny what I am going to say. For oftentimes have they imprecated curses upon matchmakers20 and upon the day that their bridal chamber21 was wreathed, and have proclaimed them happy who have not married. Many too of the young, even when they might have married, have refused for no other reason than the troublesomeness of the thing. And this I say, not as accusing marriage; for it is “honorable;” (Heb. 13:4) but those who have used it amiss. Now if they who have lived a married life, often considered their life not worth the living; what shall we say of those who have been swept down into whores’ deep pits, and are more slavishly and wretchedly treated than any captive? what of those who have grown rotten in luxury and have enveloped their bodies with a thousand diseases? ‘But it is a pleasure to be had in honor.’ Yea, rather, nothing is bitterer than this slavery. For he that seeketh vain honor is more servile than any slave, and desirous of pleasing any body; but he that treads it under foot is superior to all, who careth not for the glory that cometh from others. ‘But the possession of wealth is desirable.’ Yet we have often shown that they who are loose from it and have nothing, enjoy greater riches and repose. ‘But to be drunken is pleasant.’ But who will say this? Surely then if to be without riches is pleasanter than to have them, and not to marry than to marry, and not to seek vainglory than to seek it, and not to live luxuriously than to live so; even in this world they who are not riveted to those present things have the advantage. And as yet I say not how that the former, even though he be racked with ten thousand tortures, hath that good hope to carry him through: whilst the latter, even though he is in the enjoyment of a thousand delights, hath the fear of the future disquieting and confounding his pleasure. For this, too, is no light sort of punishment; nor therefore the contrary, of enjoyment and repose. And besides these there is a third sort. And what is this? In that the things of worldly delight do not even whilst they are present appear such, being refuted22 both by nature and time; but the others not only are, but also abide immovable. Seest thou that we shall be able to put not two for nothing only, but three even, and five, and ten, and twenty, and ten thousand for nothing? But that thou mayest learn this same truth by an example also,—the rich man and Lazarus,—the one enjoyed the things present, the other those to come. (Luke 16:19. &c.) Seems it then to thee to be one and one, to be punished throughout all time, and to be an hungered for a little season? to be diseased in thy corruptible body, and to scorch23 miserably in an undying one? to be crowned and live in undying delights after that little sickness, and to be endlessly tormented after that short enjoyment of his goods. And who will say this? For what wilt thou we should compare? the quantity? the quality? the rank? the decision of God24 concerning each? How long will ye utter the words of beetles that are for ever wallowing in dung! For these are not the words of reasoning men, to throw away a soul which is so precious for nothing, when there needeth little labor to receive heaven. Wilt thou that I teach thee also in another way that there is an awful tribunal there? Open the doors of thy conscience, and behold the judge that sitteth in thine heart. Now if thou condemnest thyself, although a lover of thyself, and canst not refrain from passing a righteous verdict, will not God much rather make great provision for that which is just, and pass that impartial judgment upon all; or will He permit everything to go on loosely and at random? And who will say this? No one; but both Greeks and barbarians, both poets and philosophers, yea the whole race of men in this agree with us, though differing in particulars25, and affirm that there are tribunals of some sort in Hades; so manifest and uncontroverted is the thing.

[4.] ‘And wherefore,’ saith one, ‘doth he not punish here?’ That He may display that longsuffering of His, and may offer to us the salvation that cometh by repentance, and not make our race to be swept away, nor pluck away those who by an excellent change are able to be saved, before that salvation. For if he instantly punished upon the commission of sins, and destroyed, how should Paul have been saved, how should Peter, the chief teachers of the world? How should David have reaped the salvation that came by his repentance? How the Galatians? How many others? For this reason then He neither exacts the penalty from all here, (but only from some out of all,) nor yet there from all, but from one here, and from another there; that He may both rouse those who are exceedingly insensible by means of those whom He punishes, and may cause them to expect the future things by those whom He punishes not. Or seest thou not many punished here, as those, for instance, who were buried under the ruins of that tower; (Luke 13:4, 7) as those whose blood Pilate mingled with their sacrifices; as those who perished by an untimely death amongst the Corinthians, because they partook unworthily of the mysteries (1 Cor. 11:30); as Pharaoh; as those of the Jews who were slain by the barbarians; as many others, both then, and now, and continually? And yet others too, having sinned in many things, departed without suffering the penalty here; as the rich man in the story of Lazarus; as many others. (Luke 16) Now these things He does, both to arouse those who quite disbelieves26 in the things to come, and to make those who do believe and are careless more diligent. “For God is a righteous Judge, and strong, and longsuffering, and visits not with wrath every day.” (Ps. 7:11. LXX.) But if we abuse His longsuffering, there will come a time when He will no more be longsuffering even for a little, but will straightway inflict the penalty.

Let us not then, in order that for a single moment (for such is this present life) we may live luxuriously, draw on ourselves punishment through endless ages: but let us toil for a moment, that we may be crowned for ever. See ye not that even in worldly things most men act in this manner: and choose a brief toil in order to a long rest, even though the opposite falls out unto them? For in this life indeed there is an equal portion of toils and reward; yea, often, on the contrary, the toil is endless whilst the fruit is little, or not even a little; but in the case of the kingdom conversely, the labor is little whilst the pleasure is great and boundless. For consider: the husbandman wearieth himself the whole year through, and at the very end of his hope ofttimes misses of the fruit27 of those many toils. The shipmaster again and the soldier, until extreme old age, are occupied with wars and labors; and oftentimes hath each of them departed, the one with the loss of his wealthy cargoes, the other, along with victory, of life itself. What excuse then shall we have, tell me, if in worldly matters indeed we prefer what is laborious in order that we may rest for a little, or not a little even; (for the hope of this is uncertain;) but in spiritual things do the converse of this and draw upon ourselves unutterable punishment for a little sloth? Wherefore I beseech you all, though late, yet still at length to recover from this frenzy. For none shall deliver us in that day; neither brother, nor father, nor child, nor friend, nor neighbor, nor any other: but if our works play us false, all will be over and we must needs28 perish. How many lamentations did that rich man make, and besought the Patriarch and begged that Lazarus might be sent! But hear what Abraham said unto him: “There is a gulf29 betwixt us and you, so that they who wish to go forth cannot pass thither.” (Luke 16:26) How many petitions did those virgins make to their fellows for a little oil! But hear what they also say; “Peradventure there will not be enough for you and for us;” (Mat. 25:9) and none was able to bring them in to the bridal chamber.

Thinking then on these things let us also be careful of that which is our life. For mention what toils soever and bring forward besides what punishment soever; all these combined will be nothing in comparison of the good things to come. Instance therefore, if thou wilt, fire and steel and wild beasts, and if there be aught sorer than these; but yet these are not even a shadow compared with those torments. For these things when applied in excess become then especially light, making the release speedy30; since the body sufficeth not unto intensity at once and long continuance of suffering; but both meet together, both prolongation and excess, alike in the good and the grievous. Whilst we have time then, “let us come before His presence with confession,” (Ps. 95:2, LXX.) that in that day we may behold Him gentle and serene, that we may escape altogether those threat-bearing Powers. Seest thou not how this world’s soldiers who perform the bidding of those in authority drag men about; how they chain, how they scourge them, how they pierce their sides, how they apply torches to their torments, how they dismember them? Yet all these things are but plays and joke unto those punishments. For these punishments are temporal; but there neither the worm dieth nor is the fire quenched: for that body of all is incorruptible, which is then to be raised up. But God grant that we may never learn these things by experience; but that these fearful things may never be nearer unto us than in the mention of them31; and that we be not delivered over to those tormentors, but may be hence made wise32. How many things shall we then say in accusation of ourselves! How many lamentations shall we utter! How many groans! But it will thenceforth be of no avail. For neither can sailors, when the ship hath gone to pieces and hath sunk, thereafter be of any service; nor physicians when the patient is departed; but they will often say indeed that so and so ought to have been done; but all is fruitless and in vain. For as long indeed as hopes remain from amendment, one ought both to say and do every thing: but when we have no longer any thing in our power, all being quite ruined, it is to no purpose that all is said and done. For even then Jews will then say, “Blessed is He that cometh in the Name of the Lord:” (Mat. 23:39) but they will be able to reap none advantage of this cry towards escaping their punishment; for when they ought to have said it, they said it not. That then this be not the case with us in respect to our life, let us now and from this time reform that we may stand at the tribunal of Christ with all boldness; whereunto may all of us attain through the grace and love toward men of our Lord Jesus Christ, with Whom to the Father, with the Holy Spirit, be glory and might for ever and ever. Amen.

HOMILY X

2 Cor. 5:1

For we know, that if the earthly house of our tabernacle be dissolved, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal, in the heavens.

Again he arouses their zeal because many trials drew on1. For it was likely that they, in consequence of his absence, were weaker in respect to this [need]. What then saith he? One ought not to wonder that we suffer affliction; nor to be confounded, for we even reap many gains thereby. And some of these he mentioned before; for instance, that we “bear about the dying of Jesus,” and present the greatest proof of His power: for he says, “that the exceeding greatness of the power may be of God:” and we exhibit a clear proof of the Resurrection, for, says he, “that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our mortal flesh.” But since along with these things he said that our inward man is thus made better also; for “though our outward man is decaying,” saith he, “yet the inward man is renewed day by day;” showing again that this being scourged and persecuted is proportionately useful, he adds, that when this is done thoroughly, then the countless good things will spring up for those who have endured these things. For lest when thou hearest that thy outward man perishes, thou shouldest grieve; he says, that when this is completely effected, then most of all shalt thou rejoice and shalt come unto a better inheritance2. So that not only ought not one to grieve at its perishing now in part, but even earnestly to seek for the completion of that destruction, for this most conducts thee to immortality. Wherefore also he added, “For we know, that if the earthly house of our tabernacle be dissolved: we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.” For since he is urging3 again the doctrine of the Resurrection in respect to which they were particularly unsound; he calls in aid the judgment of his hearers also, and so establishes it; not however in the same way as before, but, as it were, arriving at it out of another subject: (for they had been already corrected:) and says, “We know that if the earthly house of our tabernacle be dissolved, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.” Some indeed say that the ‘earthly house’ is this world; But I should maintain that he alludes rather to the body.4 But observe, I pray, how by the terms [he uses,] he shows the superiority of the future things to the present. For having said “earthly” he hath opposed to it “the heavenly;” having said, “house of tabernacle,” thereby declaring both that it is easily taken to pieces and is temporary, he hath opposed to it the “eternal,” for the name “tabernacle” oftentimes denotes temporariness. Wherefore He saith, “In My Father’s house are many abiding places.” (John 14:2) But if He anywhere also calls the resting places of the saints tabernacles; He calls them not tabernacles simply, but adds an epithet; for he said not, that “they may receive you” into their tabernacles, but “into the eternal tabernacles.” (Luke 16:9) Moreover also in that he said, “not made with hands,” he alluded to that which was made with hands. What then? Is the body made with hands? By no means; but he either alludes to the houses here that are made with hands, or if not this, then he called the body which is not made with hands, ‘a house of tabernacle.’ For he has not used the term in antithesis and contradistinction5 to this, but to heighten those eulogies and swell those commendations.

[2.] Ver. 2 “For verily in this we groan, longing to be clothed upon with our habitation which is from heaven.”

What habitation? tell me. The incorruptible body. And why do we groan now? Because that is far better. And “from heaven” he calls it because of its incorruptibleness. For it is not surely that a body will come down to us from above: but by this expression he signifies the grace which is sent from thence. So far then ought we to be from grieving at these trials which are in part that we ought to seek even for their fulness,6 as if he had said: Groanest thou, that thou art persecuted, that this thy man is decaying? Groan that this is not done unto excess and that it perishes not entirely. Seest thou how he hath turned round what was said unto the contrary; having proved that they ought to groan that those things were not done fully; for which because they were done partially; they groaned. Therefore he henceforth calls it not a tabernacle, but a house, and with great reason. For a tabernacle indeed is easily taken to pieces; but a house abideth continually.

Ver. 3. “If so be that being unclothed7 we shall not be found naked.”

That is, even if we have put off the body, we shall not be presented there without a body, but even with the same one made incorruptible. But some read, and it deserves very much to be adopted, “If so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked.” For lest all should be confident because of the Resurrection, he says, “If so be that being clothed,” that is, having obtained incorruption and an incorruptible body, “we shall not be found naked” of glory and safety. As he also said in the former Epistle; “We shall all be raised; but each in his own order.” And, “There are celestial bodies, and bodies terrestial.” (1 Cor. 15:22, 23) (ib. 40) For the Resurrection indeed is common to all, but the glory is not common; but some shall rise in honor and others in dishonor, and some to a kingdom but others to punishment. This surely he signified here also, when he said; “If so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked.”

[3.] Ver. 4. “For indeed we that are in this tabernacle do groan8, not for that we would be unclothed, but that we would be clothed upon.”

Here again he hath utterly and manifestly stopped the mouths of the heretics, showing that he is not speaking absolutely of a body differing in identity9, but of corruption and incorruption. ‘For we do not therefore groan,’ saith he, ‘that we may be delivered from the body: for of this we do not wish to be unclothed; but we hasten to be delivered from the corruption that is in it. Wherefore he saith, ‘we wish not to be unclothed of the body, but that it should be clothed upon with incorruption.’ Then he also interprets it [thus,] “That what is mortal may be swallowed up of life.” For since putting off the body appeared to many a grievous thing; and he was contradicting the judgments of all, when he said, “we groan,” not wishing to be set free from it; (‘for if,’ says one, ‘the soul in being separated from it so suffers and laments, how sayest thou that we groan because we are not separated from it?’) lest then this should be urged against him, he says, ‘Neither do I assert that we therefore groan, that we may put it off; (for no one putteth it off without pain, seeing that Christ says even of Peter, ‘They shall “carry thee,” and lead thee “whither thou wouldest not;”—John 21:18) but that we may have it clothed upon with incorruption.’ For it is in this respect that we are burdened by the body; not because it is a body, but because we are encompassed with a corruptible body and liable to suffering10, for it is this that also causes us pain. But the life when it arriveth destroyeth and useth up the corruption; the corruption, I say, not the body. ‘And how cometh this to pass?’ saith one. Inquire not; God doeth it; be not too curious. Wherefore also he added,

Ver. 5. “Now he that hath wrought us for this very thing is God.”

Hereby he shows that these things were prefigured from the first. For not now was this decreed: but when at the first He fashioned us from earth and created Adam; for not for this created He him, that he should die, but that He might make him even immortal. Then as showing the credibility of this and furnishing the proof of it, he added,

“Who also gave the earnest of the Spirit.”

For even then He fashioned us for this; and now He hath wrought unto this by baptism, and hath furnished us with no light security thereof, the Holy Spirit. And he continually calls It an earnest, wishing to prove God to be a debtor of the11 whole, and thereby also to make what he says more credible unto the grosser sort12.

[4.] Ver. 6. “Being therefore always of good courage, and knowing.”

The word “of good courage” is used with reference to the persecutions, the plottings, and the continual deaths: as if he had said, ‘Doth any vex and persecute and slay thee? Be not cast down, for thy good all is done. Be not afraid: but of good courage. For that which thou groanest and grievest for, that thou art in bondage to corruption, he removes from henceforward out of the way, and frees thee the sooner from this bondage.’ Wherefore also he saith, “Being therefore always of good courage,” not in the seasons of rest only, but also in those of tribulation; “and knowing,”

Ver. 7, 8. “That whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord (for we walk by faith, not by sight); we are of good courage, I say, and are willing to be absent from the body, and to be at home with the Lord.”

That which is greater than all he has put last, for to be with Christ is better, than receiving an incorruptible [body.] But what he means is this: ‘He quencheth not our life that warreth against and killeth us; be not afraid; be of good courage even when hewn in pieces. For not only doth he set thee free from corruption and a burden, but he also sendeth thee quickly to the Lord.’ Wherefore neither did he say, “whilst we ‘are’ in the body:” as of those who are in a foreign and strange land. “Knowing therefore that whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: we are of good courage, I say, and willing to be absent from the body, and to be at home with the Lord.” Seest thou how keeping back what was painful, the names of death and the end, he has employed instead of them such as excite great longing13, calling them presence with God; and passing over those things which are accounted to be sweet, the things of life, he hath expressed them by painful names, calling the life here an absence from the Lord? Now this he did, both that no one might fondly linger amongst present things, but rather be aweary of them; and that none when about to die might be disquieted14, but might even rejoice as departing unto greater goods. Then that none might say on hearing that we are absent from the Lord, ‘Why speakest thou thus? Are we then estranged from Him whilst we are here?’ he in anticipation corrected15 such a thought, saying, “For we walk by faith, not by sight.” Even here indeed we know Him, but not so clearly. As he says also elsewhere, (1 Cor. 13:12) “in a mirror,” and “darkly.”

“We are of good courage, I say, and willing.” Wonderful! to what hath he brought round the discourse? To an extreme desire of death, having shown the grievous to be pleasurable, and the pleasurable grievous. For by the term, “we are willing” he means, ‘we are desirous.’ Of what are we desirous? Of being “absent from the body, and at home with the Lord.” And thus he does perpetually, (as I showed also before) turning round the objection of his opponents unto the very contrary.

Ver. 9. “Wherefore also we make it our aim whether at home or absent, to be well pleasing unto him.”

‘For what we seek for is this,’ saith he, ‘whether we be there or here, to live according to His will; for this is the principal thing. So that by this thou hast the kingdom already in possession without a probation.’ For lest when they had arrived at so great a desire of being there, they should again be disquieted at its being so long first, in this he gives them already the chief16 of those good things. And what is this? To be well “pleasing.” For as to depart is not absolutely good, but to do so in [God’s] favor, which is what makes departing also become a good; so to remain here is not absolutely grievous, but to remain offending Him. Deem not then that departure from the body is enough; for virtue is always necessary. For as when he spoke of a Resurrection, he allowed [them] not by it alone to be of good courage, saying, “If so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked;” so also having showed a departure, lest thou shouldest think that this is enough to save thee, he added that it is needful that we be well pleasing.

[5.] Seeing then he has persuaded them by many good things, henceforth he alarms them also by those of gloomier aspect17. For our interest consists both in the attainment of the good things and the avoidance of the evil things, in other words, hell and the kingdom. But since this, the avoiding of punishment, is the more forcible motive; for where penalty reaches only to the not receiving good things, the most will bear this contentedly; but if it also extend to the suffering of evil, do so no longer: (for they ought, indeed, to consider the former intolerable, but from the weakness and grovelling nature of the many, the latter appears to them more hard to bear:) since then (I say) the giving of the good things doth not so arouse the general hearer as the threat of the punishments, he is obliged to conclude with this, saying,

Ver. 10. “For we must all be made manifest before the judgment-seat.”

Then having alarmed and shaken18 the hearer by the mention of that judgment-seat, he hath not even here set down the woful without the good things, but hath mingled something of pleasure, saying,

“That each one may receive the things done in the body,” as many19 as “he hath done, whether” it be “good or bad.”

By saying these words, he both reviveth20 those who have done virtuously and are persecuted with those hopes, and maketh those who have fallen back more earnest by that fear. And he thus confirmed his words touching the resurrection of the body. ‘For surely,’ sayeth he, ‘that which hath ministered to the one and to the other shall not stand excluded from the recompenses: but along with the soul shall in the one case be punished, in the other crowned.’ But some of the heretics say, that it is another body that is raised. How so? tell me. Did one sin, and is another punished? Did one do virtuously, and is another crowned? And what will ye answer to Paul, saying, “We would not be unclothed, but clothed upon?” And how is that which is mortal “swallowed up of life?” For he said not, that the mortal or corruptible body should be swallowed up of the incorruptible body; but that corruption [should be swallowed up] “of life.” For then this happeneth when the same body is raised; but if, giving up that body, He should prepare another, no longer is corruption swallowed up but continueth dominant. Therefore this is not so; but “this corruptible,” that is to say the body, “must put on incorruption.” For the body is in a middle state21, being at present in this and hereafter to be in that; and for this reason in this first, because it is impossible for the incorruption to be dissolved. “For neither doth corruption inherit incorruption,” saith he, (for, how is it [then] incorruption?) but on the contrary, “corruption is swallowed up of life:” for this indeed survives the other, but not the other this. For as wax is melted by fire but itself doth not melt the fire: so also doth corruption melt and vanish away under incorruption, but is never able itself to get the better of incorruption.

[6.] Let us then hear the voice of Paul, saying, that “we must stand at the judgment-seat of Christ;” and let us picture to ourselves that court of justice, and imagine it to be present now and the reckoning to be required22. For I will speak of it more at large. For Paul, seeing that he was discoursing on affliction, and he had no mind to afflict them again, did not dwell on the subject; but having in brief expressed its austerity23, “Each one shall receive according to what he hath done,” he quickly passed on. Let us then imagine it to be present now, and reckon each one of us with his own conscience, and account the Judge to be already present, and everything to be revealed and brought forth. For we must not merely stand, but also be manifested. Do ye not blush? Are ye not astonied? But if now, when the reality is not yet present, but is granted in supposition merely and imaged in thought; if now [I say] we perish conscience-struck; what shall we do when [it] shall arrive, when the whole world shall be present, when angels and archangels, when ranks upon ranks, and all hurrying at once, and some caught up24 on the clouds, and an array full of trembling; when there shall be the trumpets, one upon another, [when] those unceasing voices?

For suppose there were no hell, yet in the midst of so great brightness to be rejected and to go away dishonored;—how great the punishment! For if even now, when the Emperor rideth in and his train with him, we contemplating each one of us our own poverty, derive not so much pleasure from the spectacle, as we endure dejection at having no share in what is going on about the Emperor, nor being near the Sovereign; what will it be then? Or thinkest thou it is a light punishment, not to be ranked in that company, not to be counted worthy of that unutterable glory, from that assemblage and those untold good things, to be cast forth somewither far and distant? But when there is also darkness, and gnashing of teeth, and chains indissoluble, and an undying worm, and fire unquenchable, and affliction, and straitness, and tongues scorching like the rich man’s; and we wail, and none heareth; and we groan and gnash our teeth for anguish, and none regardeth; and we look all round, and no where is there any to comfort us; where shall we rank those that are in this condition? what is there more miserable than are those souls? what more pitiable? For if, when we enter a prison and see its inmates, some squalid, some chained and famishing, some again shut up in darkness, we are moved with compassion, we shudder, we use all diligence that we may never be cast into that place; how will it be with us, when we are led and dragged away into the the torture-dungeons25 themselves of hell? For not of iron are those chains, but of fire that is never quenched; nor are they that are set over us our fellows whom it is often possible even to mollify; but angels whom one may not so much as look in the face, exceedingly enraged at our insults to their Master. Nor is it given, as here, to see some bringing in money, some food, some words of comfort, and to meet with consolation; but all is irremissible there: and though it should be Noah, or Job, or Daniel, and he should see his own kindred punished, he dares not succor. For even natural sympathy too comes then to be done away. For since it happeneth that there are righteous fathers of wicked children, and [righteous] children of [wicked] fathers; that so their pleasure may be unalloyed, and those who enjoy the good things may not be moved with sorrow through the constraining force of sympathy, even this sympathy, I affirm, is extinguished, and themselves are indignant together with the Master against their own bowels. For if the common run of men, when they see their own children vicious, disown26 and cut them off from that relationship; much rather will the righteous then. Therefore let no one hope for good things, if he have not wrought any good thing, even though he have ten thousand righteous ancestors. “For each one shall receive the things done in the body according to what he hath done.” Here he seems to me to be alluding also to them that commit fornication: and to raise up as a wall27 unto them the fear of that world, not however to them alone; but also to all that in any wise transgress.

[7.] Let us hear then, us also. And if thou have the fire of lust, set against it that other fire, and this will presently be quenched and gone. And if thou purposest to utter some harsh sounding28 [speech], think of the gnashing of teeth, and the fear will be a bridle to thee. And if thou purposest to plunder, hear the Judge commanding, and saying, “Bind him hand and foot, and cast him into the outer darkness,” (Matt. 22:13) and thou wilt cast out this lust also. And if thou art drunken, and surfeitest continually, hear the rich man saying, ‘Send Lazarus, that with the tip of his finger he may cool this scorching tongue;’ (Luke 16:24) yet not obtaining this; and thou wilt hold thyself aloof from that distemper29. But if thou lovest luxury, think of the affliction and the straitness there, and thou wilt not think at all of this. If again thou art harsh and cruel, bethink thee of those virgins who when their lamps had gone out missed so of the bridal chamber, and thou wilt quickly become humane. Or sluggish art thou, and remiss? Consider him that hid the talent, and thou wilt be more vehement than fire. Or doth desire of thy neighbor’s substance devour thee? Think of the worm that dieth not, and thou wilt easily both put away from thee this disease, and in all other things wilt do virtuously. For He hath enjoined nothing irksome or oppressive. Whence then do His injunctions appear irksome to us? From our own slothfulness. For as if we labor diligently, even what appears intolerable will be light and easy; so if we are slothful, even things tolerable will seem to us difficult30.

Considering then all these things, let us think not of the luxurious, but what is their end; here indeed filth and obesity, there the worm and fire: not of the rapacious, but what is their end; cares here, and fears, and anxieties; there chains indissoluble: not of the lovers of glory, but what these things bring forth; here slavery and dissemblings, and there both loss intolerable and perpetual burnings. For if we thus discourse with ourselves, and if with these and such like things we charm perpetually our evil lusts, quickly shall we both cast out the love of the present things, and kindle that of the things to come. Let us therefore kindle it and make it blaze. For if the conception of them, although a faint sort of one, affords so great pleasure; think how great the gladness, the manifest experience itself shall bring us. Blessed, and thrice blessed, yea, thrice blessed many times, are they who enjoy those good things; just as, consequently, pitiable and thrice wretched are they who endure the opposite of these. That then we may be not of these but those, let us choose virtue. For so shall we attain unto the good things to come as well; which may all we attain, through the grace and love towards men of our Lord Jesus Christ; by Whom, and with Whom, to the Father, together with the Holy Spirit, be glory, might, and honor, now and for ever, and world without end. Amen.

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Father Callan’s Commentary on 2 Corinthians 4:1-6

Posted by Dim Bulb on April 21, 2018

Slowly but surely my posts on Father Callan’s Commentary on 2 Corinthians is coming. I’m still in the process of archiving all the commentaries on the Sunday and daily readings. Text in red are my additions.

2 Cor 4:1-6 THE APOSTLE HAS EXERCISED HIS MINISTRY WITH SINCERITY AND FRANKNESS BECAUSE OF ITS EXALTED CHARACTER

A Summary of 2 Corinthians 4:1-6~The subject of the preceding chapter is continued in this section, which might well have been made a part of that chapter. What the Apostle has already said about the sublimity of the Gospel ministry and the confidence with which its preachers speak is more than sufficient to refute the calumny that he spoke with arrogance. Consequently he terminates this subject by repeating that he has preached the Gospel clearly, openly, and without timidity; and if some think his preaching is obscure, it is because their minds are blinded by Satan. As for himself, he is the servant of Christ and is trying to spread the light which has been divinely bestowed on him. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Our (Vulg., nostrum) should be omitted. 

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

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

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

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Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on 2 Corinthians 4:13-5:1

Posted by Dim Bulb on March 17, 2018

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

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

But having, in the midst of dangers and death, the same faith proceeding from the Holy Ghost, that David had of old, when, as it is written of him, he said in the midst of trials and dangers: I have believed, and still believe firmly in the divine promises, and therefore, in consequence of this unhesitating faith in God’s promises, I have proclaimed, and still proclaim it aloud; so we also Apostles firmly believe in the promises, and, therefore, openly proclaim and profess this our faith.

He assigns a reason why the Apostles, in the midst of dangers, preach intrepidly it is because they really and firmly believe, unlike the false teachers, who, in dangerous circumstances, are become like “dumb dogs not able to bark.”—(Isaias, 56:10), “Having the same spirit of faith,” which David had, proceeding from the Holy Ghost, when in Psalm 115 he says, in the midst of the dangers which menaced his life: “I believed” (the perfect tense is put, by a Hebrew idiom, for the present, “I believe:” or, it may mean, I have believed and still continue to believe, in the promises of God made to me by Samuel, that one day I should ascend the throne; for, it is to this he refers in the 115th Psalm), and, therefore, on account of the firmness of this faith, “I have spoken” I have proclaimed, and do proclaim it aloud, knowing that God will preserve me. Some interpreters understand the word thus: having the same faith, with you, emanating from the Holy Ghost, we too believe, and, therefore, as did he of whom it was written, “I believed,” &c. It is better, however, to understand it of the same faith, with David. Hence, the faith of the saints of old is the same with ours. The mode of believing may be different; for they believed implicitly, what we believe explicitly; but “the same spirit” was the author of their faith and ours. Those, therefore, who believe firmly in their hearts, shall not be afraid or ashamed to profess this interior faith openly, when its external profession becomes a matter of duty.

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

Firmly impressed with the belief, that he who raised Jesus from the dead, will so raise us, and bestow on us a like glory with Jesus, and give us a place with you in his heavenly kingdom.

“Raised up Jesus.” In the common Greek, raised up the Lord Jesus. (The Codex Vaticanus has not the word Lord). “With Jesus.” (In the common Greek, δια Ιησου, through Jesus). The Codex Vaticanus has, συν ιησου, the Vulgate reading retained by St. Jerome. This firm belief in their future resurrection animates the Apostles to proclaim it aloud and preach the gospel intrepidly amid the most appalling dangers. “And place us with you.” He uses this form rather than place you with us, to show the great value he attaches to them, so as to prefer them to himself in glory, since he is only to come in for a share of glory of which they will be in possession.

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

I said, give us a place with you, for all our ministrations are ordained for your salvation, that the grace of the gospel, being diffused amongst many, whilst many are returning thanks for it, may redound to the glory of God.

It is not without cause that he placed them first; for they, or rather their salvation, is the end for which all his labours are designed. From making them sharers in his own glory this good shall result, viz., that the benefits of the gospel being more widely diffused and more extensively communicated, may redound to the glory of God, whilst the many on whom they are conferred will join in returning God thanks for them. Acts of thanksgiving, therefore, contribute much to God’s glory. The Greek, την ευχαριστιαν περισευσση εἰς την δοξαν τοῦ θεοῦ, admits the construction of Erasmus, viz., that the grace abounding through many may abound with thanksgiving unto the glory of God, in which the verb “abound” has a transitive signification, as in chapter 11, verse 8.

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

Propped up by this hope of future glory (verse 14), we faint not in adversity. For, although our bodies, the exterior portion of our persons, be attenuated by the sufferings we undergo for Christ, and tending to dissolution; still, our interior part, the soul, is daily becoming more and more vigorous and renovated.

It is the hope of future glory in heaven that animates the just in the midst of sufferings and persecutions. By the “outward man,” is meant the outward and sensible portion of man, viz., his frail and corruptible body. This is attenuated and worn by sufferings. But the “inward man,” the invisible soul, from these same sufferings receives vigour, and is renovated from the oldness of sin to the newness of truth and justice.

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

For the fleeting and light afflictions of the body, which we endure at present, shall beget and insure for us hereafter an eternal weight of glory, which ineffably and incomparably exceeds the light and passing afflictions of the present life.

The Greek reading runs thus:—τὸ γὰρ παραυτικα ελαφρὸν τῆς θλιψεως καθʼ ὑπερβολην εἰς ὑπερβολην κατεργαζεται, for the present lightness of affliction from excess to excess worketh, &c. From excess to excess, or, as we have it, “above measure exceedingly,” means that this weight of eternal glory, which our present light and passing afflictions merit for us, is also ineffable, superlatively immense. This form of expression is common with the Hebrews to express what is ineffably great in its kind; or, the words may mean, that this glory inexpressibly exceeds the sufferings undergone here to gain it. The lightness of our sufferings, and their momentary continuance, are contrasted with the weight and eternal duration of the glory, that shall one day be exchanged for them. “O! our tribulation:” “our” is not in the Codex Vaticanus, as in the above quotation.

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

Whilst we keep steadily in view, not the goods of the present life, viz., honours, riches, &c., which fill beneath the senses—but the good of the life to come, which are not seen, but only believed. For, the things of this life, which are seen, are fleeting and temporary, while the invisible things of the life to come are eternal and never-ending.

“While we look not at the things which are seen.” The Greek word for “look,” σκοπουντων means keeping steadily in view. Oh! were we, with the eyes of the understanding, and in the light of faith, to consider the nothingness of earthly enjoyments and pleasures, in duration exceedingly brief, and even this very brief enjoyment alloyed with bitterness and remorse and disappointments of all sorts; and on the other hand, were we to contemplate the things of the invisible world, their never-ending duration, their intensity exceeding all human comprehension; were we but to “consider in the heart,” on the awful import of these words, “ever,” “never;” ever to continue, never to end; what a stimulus to walk in the way of virtue, and keeping God always in view, to look to the remuneration he has in store for us; what a consolation under the crosses and afflictions with which this loving Father may visit us, in order to chasten us with the rod of discipline, and wean us from the nothingness of earthly pleasures. O God! increase in us a spirit of lively faith, so as to view temporal and eternal things, the fleeting affairs of this visible world, and the never-ending concerns of the invisible world, as they are; ever to bear in mind that there are two worlds, the visible and invisible—the one to pass away, as regards us, very soon, nay, sooner than we may imagine; the other never to end, to continue as long as God shall be God—and be influenced in our conduct, with reference to them, according to their relative importance.

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

For, 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.

 

 

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Father Callan’s Commentary on 2 Corinthians 4:13-5:1

Posted by Dim Bulb on March 17, 2018

To help provide context a summary of 4:13-18 and 5:1-10 is supplied.

THE APOSTLES WERE COMFORTED IN THEIR TRIBULATIONS BY THE HOPE OF A GLORIOUS RESURRECTION

A Summary of 2 Corinthians 4:13-18~Having explained the purpose of God in permitting the sufferings of the Apostles, St. Paul now speaks of the end the Apostles themselves had in view in the exercise of their difficult ministry. In spite of the constant menace of death they ceased not to preach the Gospel, knowing that a glorious resurrection awaited them and their converts, that God’s glory was promoted by their labors, and that an eternal reward would be given in exchange for their transitory sufferings.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

AGAIN ASSERTING HIS HOPE OF A GLORIOUS RESURRECTION ST. PAUL SAYS HE SEEKS ONLY TO PLEASE CHRIST, HIS FUTURE JUDGE

A Summary of 2 Corinthians 5:1-10~The closing subject of the last chapter is continued through this section. These verses are, in reality, a part of the previous chapter and would better be joined to it. St. Paul has just been saying that the unhesitating hope of a future glorious resurrection is the stay of the Apostles in their sufferings and tribulations. This he again asserts and confirms by the certitude of the glorious transmutation of those whom Christ at His coming will find still living. Neither do the Apostles refuse death, since that will bring their souls home to Christ. Hence St. Paul and his companions, in the discharge of their Apostolic functions, strive only to please Christ, their judge, who will reward everyone according to his merits.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Father Callan’s Commentary on 2 Corinthians 3:12-18

Posted by Dim Bulb on February 17, 2018

2 Cor 3:12-18 THE SUPERIORITY OF THE GOSPEL DISPENSATION GIVES ITS MINISTERS RIGHT TO SPEAK WITH BOLDNESS AND AUTHORITY

The hope of greater glory which belongs to the New Testament ministry, and which, though already come, is to continue and develop, gives the Apostles confidence and assurance in announcing the Gospel clearly and openly. To explain and enforce this St. Paul contrasts the Jews who, not recognizing Christ, do not grasp the meaning of their own Old Testament, with the Christians who plainly understand Christ and are trans formed into His glorious image.

2 Cor 3:12. Having therefore such hope, we use much confidence:

Such hope of one day enjoying the fulness of the glory which belongs to the New Testament ministry. “Christianity was young and undeveloped when this was written: we have seen its maturity and the fulfillment of the Apostle’s hope” (Rick.).

Confidence. Better, “Boldness of speech” (παρρησίᾳ = parresia from πᾶς [pas] and ῥέω [rheo]). “We preach everywhere, hiding nothing, but speaking plainly, nor are we afraid of wounding your eyes, as Moses dazzled the eyes of the Jews” (St. Chrys.). The Apostle is hinting at the comparative silences of the Old Testament, e.g., as to the resurrection and eternal life (Plum.).

2 Cor 3:13. And not as Moses put a veil upon his face, that the children of Israel might not steadfastly look on the face of that which is made void.

 And not as Moses put a veil, etc. The meaning is that the Apostles do not cover their faces as Moses did. From the Hebrew and the Septuagint of Ex 34:29 ff. it appears that Moses when communicating with God had no covering on his face, and that when he came forth and spoke to the people his face was likewise unveiled until he had finished speaking to them; then he again covered his face so that the Israelites might not see the fading of the brightness from his countenance. The passing of the splendor from the face of Moses was a symbol of the transitory nature of the Old Covenant (Ex 34:33), and God did not wish to reveal this feature of the Law to the Jews of the time. “There was an excuse, then, for their not seeing that the Old Covenant was transient; it was different now after God had revealed the fact through the Prophets and declared it openly through the Apostles” (MacR.).

Look on the face should be “look on the end,” namely, the fading away of the brightness of Moses’ face. All the Greek MSS., except A, and all the Greek and Latin Fathers read “end” (τέλος = telos) here in place of “face.”

Of that which is made void, i.e., the fading away of the brightness from Moses’ face, which was a symbol of the transient character of the Old Testament.

The in faciem of the Vulgate should be in finem.

2 Cor 3:14. But their senses were made dull. For, until this present day, the selfsame veil, in the reading of the old testament, remaineth not taken away (because in Christ it is made void).

Although the Apostles wear no veil, but speak openly and plainly of Christ, the Jews do not understand, because their senses, i.e., their minds, are blinded through their own fault. Little by little, through the Prophets, God lifted the veil which hung over the face of the Law, so that the Jews could have perceived the nature of the Old Dispensation, which was intended to lead them to Christ (Gal. 3:24); but, influenced by the devil (2 Cor 4:4), they willingly closed their eyes and their hearts to the light and warmth of the Gospel (Isa. 6:8 ff.; Acts 28:25 ff.).

Until this present day the Old Testament continues to be a veiled book to the Jews, because just as they could not perceive the vanishing glory of the face of Moses, so now, of their own choice, are they unable to understand the transitory nature of the Scriptures which they read.

The selfsame veil means that the symbolism of the veil is the same, namely, the inability to see that which was passing. The Jews read their Scriptures, but the veil hangs over what they read because they will not believe in Christ through whom alone their darkness can be lifted: in Christ it (the veil) is made void, i.e., is done away with.

2 Cor 3:15. But even until this day, when Moses is read, the veil is upon their heart.

 When Moses is read. The meaning is that even when St. Paul wrote this letter a veil hung over the hearts of the Jews, as a people, while they heard read every Sabbath in their synagogues the Old Testament Scriptures. The Jews remained insensible to the truth, because they kept their powers of perceiving truth covered.

Moses here stands for the entire Old Testament, because the Prophets were read every Sabbath, as well as the Law.

2 Cor 3:16. But when they shall be converted to the Lord, the veil shall be taken away.

But when they shall be converted, etc. According to the Greek MSS. and Fathers, and the older Latin editions this verse should read: “But when he turneth to the Lord, the veil is taken away.” The Apostle is alluding to Ex 34:34, where it is said that Moses removed his veil, when he turned to converse with the Lord. The action of Moses is allegorically applied to the Jews who shall be enlightened, when they shall have turned to the Lord.

The auferetur of the Vulgate should be aufertur.

2 Cor 3:17. Now the Lord is a Spirit. And where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.

The first clause here reads as follows in Greek : “Now the Lord is the Spirit,” i.e., the Holy Ghost is the Lord, a Divine Person (St. Chrys., Theod., etc.); or Christ (verse 16), to whom the Jews, typified by Moses, are to turn, is the Spirit, i.e., is the Holy Ghost mentioned above, in verses 6, 8, the life and principle of the New Law, inasmuch as the Holy Ghost is the Spirit of Christ, or, inasmuch as Christ and the Holy Ghost have the same divine nature (Bisping, Maier, etc.); or the Lord here does not mean Christ, but God, the quickening Spirit of the New Covenant (verse 6), in contradistinction to the letter of the Old (Comely). But it is difficult to see how Κύριος (= Kyrios = Lord) here can mean Yahweh, to whom the Jews as a people had always turned. There seems rather to be question of Christ to whom they refused to turn. When, therefore, the Jews shall have turned from the letter of the Law which killeth to the Spirit of the Gospel which quickeneth, the blindness of their minds shall disappear, and they shall be freed from the servitude which now enslaves them.

There is liberty, i.e., from the bondage of the Law, from its ceremonial precepts. The Spirit makes us children of God (Rom. 8:14 ff.) and free “by the freedom wherewith Christ has made us free” (Gal. 4:31).

This verse is a proof of the Divinity of the Holy Ghost, as all the Greek Fathers argue.

2 Cor 3:18. But we all beholding the glory of the Lord with open face, are transformed into the same image from glory to glory, as by the Spirit of the Lord.

We are beholding, etc., i.e., unlike the Jews whose faces are veiled, all we Christians through our faith reflect, with uncovered countenance as in a mirror, the glory of the Lord resplendent in Holy Scripture, and especially in the Gospel, and are continually being transformed into the divine image we behold, because through faith and charity we receive a new form which renders us sons of God and brothers of Christ, and therefore conformable to the image of the Son of God (Rom. 8:29).

From glory to glory, i.e., the process of transformation is gradual, from one stage to another, from lesser to greater glory (cf. Rom. 1:17).

As by the Spirit of the Lord. The Greek here may be rendered in many ways. Perhaps one of the best is: “As by the Spirit who is the Lord”; and the meaning is that by the influence of the Spirit, the Holy Ghost, Christians are step by step made similar to the glorified image of Christ, and consequently of God (2 Cor 4:4).

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Father Callan’s Commentary on 2 Corinthians 3:7-11

Posted by Dim Bulb on February 17, 2018

2 Cor 3:7-11. THE MINISTRY OF THE APOSTLES IS SUPERIOR TO THAT OF MOSES

Greater glory is due to the ministry of the New Covenant than to that of the Old, because of the superior excellence of the former as compared with the latter. The Old Law consisted of letters written on stones and led to spiritual death, while the New Testament gave the Holy Ghost and spiritual life; the Old Law was unto condemnation, the New unto justification; the former was transitory, the latter is eternal in its duration.

2 Cor 3:7. Now if the ministration of death, engraven with letters upon stones, was glorious; so that the children of Israel could not steadfastly behold the face of Moses, for the glory of his countenance, which is made void:
2 Cor 3:8. How shall not the ministration of the Spirit be rather in glory?

If the ministration of death, etc., i.e., if the ministry performed by Moses in giving the Israelites the Law, which was written on tables of stone and led to death (verse 6) was glorious, i.e., was accompanied by a glorious manifestation which so shone in the face of Moses that the recipients of that Law could not steadfastly look upon his countenance (Exod. 34:29-35), how much more glorious is the ministry of the Apostles through whom is given to us the Holy Ghost and the supernatural gifts of grace and glory?

 

Which is made void. However dazzling the glory that accompanied the giving of the Law of Moses, it was only temporary; whereas the glory of the New Testament ministry is permanent and shall never fade. The glory on the face of Moses was only transitory, symbolical of the transitory character of his ministry and of the Law he gave.
 
2 Cor 3:9. For if the ministration of condemnation be glory, much more the ministration of justice aboundeth in glory.

The Old Testament ministry is called one of condemnation, because the Old Law was an occasion of sin, and thus provoked the anger and condemnation of God. See on Rom. 7:8-1 1. The New Law, on the contrary, is a ministration of justice, i.e., of justification, because through it are given the Holy Ghost, sanctifying grace and glory. See on Rom. 1:17; 3:23; Gal. 3:13.

Be (Vulg., est) should be was (fuit), as the sense requires. The Vulgate in gloria would better be gloria, to agree withδόξῃ (with B א A C).
2 Cor 3:10. For even that which was glorious in this part was not glorified, by reason of the glory that excelleth.
So superior is the glory attaching to the New Testament ministry over that of the Old Covenant that by comparison the latter was not glorious at all; the glory of the one entirely obscures the glory of the other.

 

That which was glorious, i.e., the Old Law, its ministers, and ministrations.

 

In this part. The meaning seems to be that the Old Covenant has been deprived of its glory in this respect, that something more glorious has appeared.
2 Cor 3:11. For if that which is done away was glorious, much more that which remaineth is in glory.
Although glorious in its giving, the Old Dispensation and its ministry have come to naught, because they had only a transitory purpose, namely, to lead to Christ (Gal. 3:24). If, therefore, glory accompanied such a ministry, in spite of its passing character, how much more glorious is the ministry of the New Law which is enduring.

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Father Callan’s Commentary on 2 Corinthians 3:1-6

Posted by Dim Bulb on February 17, 2018

2 Cor 3:1-6. TO THE ACCUSATION OF ARROGANCE ST. PAUL OPPOSES THE MINISTRY COMMITTED TO HIM

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

The preceding verse is now better explained. St. Paul means to say that solely of our natural strength and ability it is not possible that we should be able even to think, much less to wish or to do, anything supernaturally good and meritorious of life eternal. For the beginning, as well as the completion, of each and every salutary act we need the grace of God ; and such is the doctrine of the Church against the Pelagians, who denied all need of grace, and against the Semi-pelagians, who denied the necessity of grace for the beginning of a salutary act (cf. St. Aug., De dono persev. 13; De praedest. sanct. 2; cont. duos epis. Pel. 8, etc.; St. Thomas, h. 1. ; Counc. of Orange, can. 7).

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

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Father Callan’s Commentary on 2 Corinthians 2:12-17

Posted by Dim Bulb on February 17, 2018

2 Cor 2:12-17. ST. PAUL THANKS GOD BY WHOM HE IS APPROVED AS A SINCERE APOSTLE AND MINISTER OF CHRIST

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

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


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

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

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

My brother, i.e., my fellow-worker in preaching the Gospel. Titus was afterwards made Bishop of Crete (Titus 1:5), and St. Paul addressed one of his last Epistles to him.

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

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

 

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

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

Jesus is not in the Greek.

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

In the Vulgate Jesu should be omitted.

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

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

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

 


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


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

The tam of the Vulgate should be omitted.

 

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

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

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

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Father Callan’s Commentary on 2 Corinthians 2:5-11

Posted by Dim Bulb on February 17, 2018

2 Cor 2:5-11. ST. PAUL DEFENDS HIS TREATMENT OF THE GRIEVOUS OFFENDER

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Father Callan’s Commentary on 2 Corinthians 2:1-4

Posted by Dim Bulb on February 17, 2018

2 Cor 2:1-4. ST. PAUL CONTINUES TO VINDICATE HIS ACTIONS AGAINST THE CHARGE OF LIGHTNESS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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