The Divine Lamp

The unfolding of thy words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple…Make thy face shine upon thy servant, and teach me thy statutes

Posts Tagged ‘Notes on 2 Corinthians’

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

Posted by Dim Bulb on November 12, 2017

2 Cor 2:12-17.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jesus is not in the Greek.

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

In the Vulgate Jesu should be omitted.

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

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

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

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

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

The tam of the Vulgate should be omitted.

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

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

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


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Father de Piconio’s Commentary on 2 Corinthians 11:19-12:9

Posted by Dim Bulb on August 5, 2017

2 Cor 11:19. For you willingly bear with fools, being wise yourselves.
2 Cor 11:20. You bear it, if one reduces you to slavery, if one devours you, if one takes presents from you, if one exalts himself, if one strikes you in the face.
2 Cor 11:21. I speak to your dishonour, as if we were weak in this respect. What any dares (I speak in folly), I also dare.

I do not deny your wisdom; but it is certain that you do submit, without remonstrance, to the proud and arrogant self-assertion of others, far worse than anything you have had, or will have, to put up with from me; and indeed to absolute outrage and insult at their hands. You allow them to sell you into slavery, probably for money advanced; to seize and appropriate your goods; to exact heavy contributions from you under the name of gifts; to treat you as inferiors ; sometimes to strike you in the face. These are unquestionably allusions to incidents, which the Apostle knew to have occurred at Corinth, in the conduct of the heretical teachers or their influential supporters and allies. Some writers think that the expression, strike you in the face, is metaphorical; but there is no difficulty in supposing that it may, in some case or cases, have occurred literally. Verse 21, Saint Chrysostom says, is obscure, and apparently refers to some occurrence of a still more serious nature, which the writer does not choose to particularise more exactly. Whatever it was, it did not redound to the honour of the Corinthian Christians. And because I do not behave in the same way, you put it down, or are told to put it down, to weakness or cowardice on my part. I must protests foolish as the remark may sound, that I am as bold as others, in cases where boldness is required, or would be honourable and right. Of the truth of this statement he proceeds to give ample proof in the following verses.

It is, however, observed by Cornelius a Lapide, from Lalmeron, that what the Apostle here complains of, is the custom of the world, and has been so in all ages, and will be to the end of time. The servants of God are resisted and defied. On the smallest provocation, or appearance of provocation, men will murmur against them, cry out against them, complain of their measured and moderate severity, reject the very idea or appearance of ecclesiastical discipline; while at the same time they will exhibit the most abject and servile submission to teachers of heresy, give them full license, submit to whatever exactions they lay upon them; as the people of Israel, rejecting the modest and gentle government of the Prophet Samuel, preferred the yoke of a haughty and tyrannical king (see 1 Sam 8). And an ecclesiastical superior, who attends to, and discharges faithfully, the duties of his office, if he finds himself despised and looked down upon on that account by his own flock, may comfort himself by the example of the Apostle Saint Paul, to whom the Corinthian Christians preferred the false apostles of their day, although these last tyrannised over
them, robbed and insulted them, and crushed them under the weight of worldly influence and power. Another, who neglected the duties of his office, and the salvation of his flock, might very possibly find himself spoken of with honour, and valued and respected by the selfish and the worldly. If so, he should bestow a thought on these
false teachers of the Corinthians, and consider whether, in partaking their worldly honour, he may not also be
partaker of their guilt. At any rate, he cannot reasonably congratulate himself upon distinction at the hands of the world, which he shares with the ministers of Satan.

2 Cor 11:22. They are Hebrews, and I; they are Israelites, and I; they are the seed of Abraham, and I.

It appears from this verse that his opponents were Jews, or Judaizers. They may, however, possibly have sought to introduce, under the guise of Judaism, heresies, which were of foreign origin. The term Hebrews included originally all the descendants of the patriarch Heber, who lived at the time of the dispersion (Genesis 11:15). I am a Hebrew, and speak the Hebrew language. The Israelites, God’s chosen people, were a branch of the Hebrew race. The seed of Abraham, not converts or proselytes.

2 Cor 11:23. They are ministers of Christ, I speak as one not quite wise; I am more; in labours very many, in prison more often, in stripes beyond measure, in deaths frequently.

They arc ministers of Christ, or say they are. In verse 13, he calls them ministers of Satan. It may be a foolish thing to say, but I am much more a minister of Christ than they. The proof he adduces of this statement is not, perhaps, exactly what we should have expected, for he does not refer to the cities, provinces, and kingdoms he had evangelised and converted, but the labours, blows, and imprisonment he had suffered for the cause of Christ. I have certainly undergone toil, imprisonment, blows, peril of death, to a much greater degree than they.

2 Cor 11:24. From the Jews five times I received forty less one.

Forty less one (Deut. 25:3). If he who has sinned is found worthy of beating, let them lay him down and beat him in presence of the judges. But the number of blows must be in proportion to the crime, and never exceed forty, lest thy brother go away cruelly torn before thine eyes. Forty was therefore the maximum number of stripes allowed, and the Jews never inflicted more than thirty-nine, lest they should inadvertently exceed it.. There is no record in the Acts of the Apostles of this punishment being inflicted on Saint Paul, nor is it known where it occurred.

2 Cor 11:25. Thrice I have been beaten with a rod, once I was stoned, thrice I have been shipwrecked, I have been a night and day in the deep sea.

Thrice I was beaten with a rod, by the Gentile magis-trates. It may be inferred that the Jews used a whip. Only one of these three beatings is mentioned in the Acts. It occurred at Philippi (Acts 16:22), and on this occasion the magistrates apologised when they learned that he was a Roman citizen. Saint Paul was stoned at Lystra, in Lycaonia (Acts 14:19-20), on which occasion his life seems to have been saved by miracle. Of the three shipwrecks, there is no account in the Acts; the shipwreck at Malta, described in Acts 22, occurred some years later. A night and day in the deep. The word sea is not in the Greek, and Baronius thinks it refers to a deep dungeon at Cyzicus, in Asia Minor, in which he was once immured. But he has already spoken of prisons, the word before is shipwrecked, and the Vulgate is most probably right in saying the deptth of the sea. Theodoret says it was in an unseaworthy boat, in which he was
tossed for a night and a day. The Syriac has: Thrice I have been in shipwreck, a day and night I have been in the midst of the sea without a vessel. It is clear from these verses that many circumstances have been omitted by Saint Luke in his narrative in the Acts, which gives principally those events of which the writer was himself a witness.

2 Cor 11:26. Often in journeys, in perils of rivers, in perils of robbers, in peril from my countrymen, in peril in the city, in peril in the solitude, in pf:ril on the sea, in peril among false brethren.

Theodoret: Everywhere dangers are scattered in his path. Dangers in crossing and navigating rivers, at the hands of robbers, of Jewish conspirators, of Gentile persecutors, in the city, in the desert, by land, by sea. Everywhere plots laid against his life; and this sometimes from false brethren, or pretending believers. For from the beginning the devil has sown the tares. The number of attempts against Saint Paul’s life from the Jews is very remarkable (see Acts 9:23; 13:50; 14:5; 17:5; 20:3; 21:31; 23:10-12, etc.; 25:3).

2 Cor 11:27. In labour and care, in many vigils, in hunger and thirst, in many fasts, in cold and nakedness.

In labour and care, The Greek has toil and misery. Many vigils, for prayer, preaching, labouring. Hunger and thirst for want of food and water in long journeys, in the burning heat of the summer of the south. Fasting voluntarily undertaken for religion. Cold and nakedness, from insufficient clothing in winter.

2 Cor 11:28. Besides those things that are without, my daily preoccupation, the solicitude of all the churches.

Besides these things which arc without, and affect the body, there are the cares and anxieties of the mind. The
Greek word επισυστασις means conspiring or combined assault and tumult; and Saint Chrysostom, taking it
literally, refers it to the frequent conspiracies and seditions which threatened the Apostle’s life. But he has already
spoken of this in verse 26, and from the following words, the solicitude of all the Churches, it is reasonable to suppose lie alludes to the tumult and whirl of business in which he is continually involved, and which is always distressing to a man whose delight is in communion with God. The case of all the Churches, says Erasmus, continually weighed and pressed upon him.

2 Cor 11:29. Who is weakened, and I am not weakened? Who is scandalised, and I learn not?
2 Cor 11:30. If I must glory, I will glory of what is my weakness.
2 Cor 11:31. The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who is blessed for ever, knows I do not lie.
2 Cor 11:32. Saint Damascus, the chief of the people of King Aretas, guarded the city of the Damascenes, to take me.
2 Cor 11:33. And through a window, in a basket, I was let down over the wall, and thus escaped his hands.

If any is weakened in faith or virtue, I am, in a degree, weakened too. Any scandal arising tortures me. I will glory, if I glory, not as my opponents do, in worldly greatness—he had very high prospects of worldly greatness once—but in the suffering and humiliation which I share with Christ. The City of Damascus, with Arabia Petroea, in the division of Syria, made by the Romans among the family of Herod, fell to Aretas, whose daughter was married to Herod Antipas, the King of Galilee. Herod dismissed her to marry Herodias, wife of his brother Philip. Aretas had placed a governor in the town of Damascus. The occurrence related by the Apostle happened in a.d. 31, six-and-twenty years before the Epistle was written. It is recorded m the Acts 9:24, 25.

Corollary of Piety

What a spectacle is exhibited to us in this brief narrative of the labours and sufferings of Saint Paul! The Legate of Jesus Christ beaten with clubs, whips, rods, as if he were a guilty and worthless slave; the herald of God’s message of salvation stoned, almost to death, as a blasphemer; the faithful servant and minister of the Almighty shipwrecked at sea, tossed on the stormy waves, as if he were a wretch whom God’s very providence had abandoned to death and destruction! A sight to cause scandal, if looked at with the eyes of the flesh. Is there knowledge on high? But edifying to the last degree, regarded with the eyes of faith. For we learn from it, not to shrink, as from real evils, from care, suffering, and humiliation, but to esteem these as precious gifts of God, which He has ready for His faithful servants. It is given you, for Christ’s sake, not to believe in Him only, but also to suffer for His sake. And we learn not to shrink from and avoid the ordinary ills of life, but to prefer and choose them, as sources of eternal glory; to rejoice in them as means and principles of true glory. Our life, for the most part, has little resemblance to that of the Apostles.
Theirs was a life of labour, ours of ease; theirs of suffering, ours of softness and indulgence; theirs of poverty, slight, contempt; ours of wealth, consideration, pride. Yet ought we to differ from those of whom we boast as the fathers of our faith? Should we not be ashamed to suffer nothing, for ourselves, of all the Apostles underwent for us? Affliction is the mother of glory. By affliction Christ and the Apostles entered into glory. It is to affliction that God predestined us, as the means of making us like the image of His Son, that He might be the eldest born of many brethren; and the Cross is the inheritance He shares with us, and which it is our privilege to partake with Him.

chapter 12

In this chapter the Apostle refers to the wonderful secret revelations which had been made to him, as a proof of his authority; and announces his intention to pay another visit to Corinth.

2 Cor 12:1. If I must boast, this indeed is not expedient, but I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord.

If I must boast. Under protest, and because you require this proof of my divine commission, I will tell you that I have received this wonderful favour from heaven, although the nature of the revelation made to me is not to be communicated to mortal man. So the Vulgate and the Syriac. The Greek text differs slightly. Boasting is not good for
me; and Theodoret says that as the Greek fathers understand it, he means to say that my relation of this occurrence
is of no advantage to myself, but may be useful to you.

Visions and Revelations. Visions may be granted without revelations, when the meaning is not understood, as to
Pharao, Gen. 41:17, to Nabuchodonosor, Dan, 2:31. The revelation adds to the vision the intelligence of the meaning of what is seen. Of the Lord, not of the devil, who also is able to send visions and revelations. St. Thomas.

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

I know a man in Christ. He suppresses his own name, out of modesty, A man in Christ. That is, a Christian.

Fourteen years ago. He had concealed all knowledge of this wonderful event for fourteen years, and would have continued to do so till the end of his life, if the Corinthians had not compelled him to refer to it. St. Thomas thinks the vision here referred to was seen at the time of Saint Paul’s conversion, during the three days when he could neither see nor eat. Act 9:9. Baronius and modern writers calculate more accurately that it must have happened about eight years after his conversion, probably at the time he went to Antioch with Barnabas, Acts 13. Baron. Ann, 44 and 58. See also Estius.

The third heaven is a Hebrew phrase for the highest heaven. We have in the Scriptures mention of three heavens; the aerial heaven, where the clouds float; the sidereal heaven, where are the planets and the stars; and the empyreal heaven, or world of the angels, into which last Saint Paul was rapt. Whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell. The words seem to imply that the Apostle’s own impression was that he had actually been taken up to heaven in the body, but was not absolutely certain. This is the opinion of Saint Chrysostom, Ambrose, Grotius, Fromond, and others. Cornelius a Lapide thinks it the more probable opinion that he was conveyed to heaven in the body, as well as in spirit; and Father George Ambianus is decidedly of that opinion, De conditione raptus. Among modern writers the more general view is that the Apostle was rapt up to heaven only intellectually and in an ecstasy, not physically or corporeally; but that the soul remained still united with the body, as St. Thomas thinks, and was not separated from it by death. As the body is said to be rapt, when violently removed from its place by an external force, so the soul is rapt when taken from the shadows and symbols on which its knowledge of external things depends, and raised to the unclouded vision and clear intelligence of the angels in heaven.

In support of the first opinion it may be observed that the verb used in the Greek is not éξéστη, visited with an ecstasy, but αρπαγεντα, which seems to suit better with the idea of a bodily transportation. And as Saint Chrysostom remarks, it was in a sense due to Saint Paul that he should receive a favour not inferior to that which was granted to the other Apostles, who conversed with Christ in the body. As Saint Peter saw his glory on Mount Thabor, so did Saint Paul in the third heaven. And as Moses conversed with God in the mountain, before he came forth to promulgate the law, so Saint Paul conversed with Christ in heaven before he went forth as the teacher of the nations. But after all, a question with regard to which the Apostle was himself uncertain, must remain uncertain for us.

2 Cor 12:3. And I know such a man (whether in the body or out of the body I know not ; God knows):
2 Cor 12:4. That he was rapt into Paradise, and heard secret words, which man may not speak.
2 Cor 12:5. On behalf of such an one I will boast; but for myself I will not boast but in my infirmities.
2 Cor 12:6. For though I were willing to boast, I shall not be a fool; but I spare, lest any one esteem me above what he sees in me, or hears from me.

Secret words, arcana verba, is in the Greek αρρητα ρηματα , unutterable utterances, things so great that man cannot explain them, and transcending all power of speech. He recurs to this in verse 6. The mention of paradise suggests to some ancient writers, and among them Ambrose, St. Anselm, and Theophylact, that this is a distinct vision from that referred to in verse 2, where he says he was rapt into heaven. But it seems more probable that whereas in the heavenly vision his intellect was enlightened by the knowledge of sublime mysteries of truth, he intends by the use of the word paradise to denote the sweetness and dehght with which his heart was filled and overflowed. Heaven denotes the perfection of knowledge, paradise the perfection of joy. He heard unutterable things, because he was instructed by another, for instruction comes by hearing. St. Thomas. This doctor, as well as St. Chrysostom, St. Anselm, and St. Augustine (xii. 28 de Gen.) consider that Saint Paul beheld the divine essence in this vision; but a contrary opinion is maintained by modern writers. But the Apostle then adds, if I were able, or if I were permitted, to tell what I saw and heard, all doubts would be removed, all cavils silenced. I should not then be a fool. I refrain, lest you should think me an angel, or a god, like the people of Lystra, Acts 14:10, or the people of Malta at a later date, Acts 28. If they offered bulls in sacrifice when he wrought a miracle, what would they not have done, had he revealed all he knew? Theophylact. The example of Saint Paul in concealing this divine favour for fourteen years, is worthy of observation and imitation. When compelled to speak of it he does so as briefly as possible, and in ambiguous and enigmatical terms, and at once proceeds to record the humiliation that followed. God’s gifts are secret. If compelled to speak, say as little as possible, and recur at once to thy own nothingness.

2 Cor 12:7. And lest the greatness of the revelations should lift me up, there was given me a sting of my flesh, an angel of Satan to buffet me.
2 Cor 12:8. On account of which I thrice besought the Lord, that it might depart from me.
2 Cor 12:9. And he said to me: My grace is sufficient for thee; for virtue is perfected in infirmity.

The Apostle here changes the person, and shews that he has been speaking of himself. Should lift me up. For he also was human. Theophylact. The sting is in the Vulgate stimulus, in the Greek σκόλοψ, which, according to Grotius, signifies a thorn, according to Erasmus a sharp stake. A stimulus is properly a stake shod with iron to drive oxen when at work. This affliction Saint Paul ascribes to Satan, but nevertheless says it was given to him by the overruling
goodness of God. The verb rendered buffet, or bruise, might either infer pain or humilation, or both together. As to the nature of this infliction, there is great variety of conjecture among ecclesiastical writers. The Greek fathers.
Saint Chrysostom, Theodoret, and Theophylact, and Ambrose among the Latins, think it signifies persecution from enemies of the faith, urged on by the Devil. This is also the opinion of Erasmus. F. George Ambianus, quoted by Grotius, thinks it was an acute pain in the head or ears. Saint Thomas, that it was a painful disorder of the intestines.
Some of the authorities cited by Cornelius a Lapide consider that it was a weakness of the stomach ; others that the devils assailed him literally with blows and violence, as in the case of Saint Antony. The modern opinion now most commonly received is that it was a motion of concupiscence suggesting impure ideas to the imagination, and exciting rebellion and tumult in the flesh. In support of this latter view there is urged, 1, the metaphorical terms in which the Apostle describes it; 2, he says it was in his flesh, which hardly agrees with persecution from without; 3, it was occasioned by an angel of Satan, which would scarcely have been said of any ordinary form of disease; 4, the word colaphizat seems to imply humiliation; whereas persecution for God’s sake brings glory, and disease inflicts pain, not shame; and 5, if it had been persecution or disease, he would not so earnestly have prayed for deliverance from it. Erasmus rejects the idea altogether, as unworthy of so great a man, and one so far advanced in age. (Hammond, in loc. suggests that the affection referred to by Saint Paul was an affection of the eyes, which impaired his sight, and from which there are other grounds for believing that he suffered. He dictated all his epistles to an amanuensis, adding only a few words in his own handwriting at the end, for identification, and these written in very large characters. You see in what large letters I write in my own hand. Gal. 6:11. In support of this conjecture it may be observed that he refers to his infirmity as if it were already well known; and if it were of the kind suggested above, and known only to himself, it seems hardly likely that he would have alluded to it at all; while the urgency with which he prayed for deliverance would imply that it was something he thought likely to occasion hindrance to the exercise of his ministry).

I besought the Lord thrice. Doubtless at these different oblations of the Holy Sacrifice. But Saint Chrysostom thinks that thrice means simply often. That it, that is the angel of Satan, might leave me. The prayers of the just are often heard, when not heard; heard for their good, unheard for their wishes. God is good, and often withholds what we
want, to give what we want still more. St. Jerome. The patient under the knife will call out for mercy, but the operator does not listen. St. Augustine. Virtue is made perfect in weakness. Virtue is not here opposed to vice, but to
weakness. The Greek has my power. The power of God is shown forth most conspicuously through the infirmity of

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Father Callan’s Commentary on 2 Corinthians 13:11-13

Posted by Dim Bulb on May 13, 2017


A Summary of 2 Corinthians 13:11-13~In a short time the Apostle expects to visit Corinth, and hence only a few words are required to terminate this letter. Following the severity that has preceded in the last four chapters some brief expression of kindness now will dispose the faithful to proper dispositions.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Amen is wanting in the best MSS.

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Father Callan’s Commentary on 2 Corinthians 13:7-10

Posted by Dim Bulb on May 13, 2017


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

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

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

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

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

Truth means moral rectitude.

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

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

The quoniam of the Vulgate should be quum or quando.

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

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

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Father Callan’s Commentary on 2 Corinthians 13:1-6

Posted by Dim Bulb on May 13, 2017


A Summary of 2 Corinthians 13:1-6~In verse 20 of the preceding chapter St. Paul expressed the fear that when he would come to Corinth he might be found other than he would like. Following up this thought he now says explicitly that he will be severe on those who by their impenitence provoke him. He therefore exhorts them beforehand to examine into their lives, because he will exercise his authority.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The in vobis of the Vulgate should be in vos.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Father Callan’s Commentary on 2 Corinthians 12:19-21

Posted by Dim Bulb on May 13, 2017


A Summary of 2 Corinthians 12:19-21~At times St. Paul speaks to the Corinthians as if he were on trial before them, as if they were his judges (2 Cor 10:7; 11:1, etc.); but here he gives them to understand that such is not the case. It does not pertain to children to judge their father. Only God is the judge of the Apostles. He writes these things for their edification, that they may correct their vices.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Father Callan’s Commentary on 2 Corinthians 12:11-18

Posted by Dim Bulb on May 13, 2017


A Summary of 2 Corinthians 12:11-18~How distasteful to the Apostle it was to boast of his labors and of his divine gifts we are constantly reminded by the frequent apologies he makes for so doing. The fact of the matter is that he has been forced to glory by the silence of the Corinthians in not defending him against the calumnies of his adversaries. His deeds among them were a proof that he was a genuine Apostle. The only thing they could complain about was his refusal to accept anything from them ; but this same policy he will continue on his forthcoming visit, being solicitous only for the welfare of their souls. They know that neither he nor his disciples have imposed on them.

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

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

Above measure apostles. See on 11:5.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overreach you, by extorting money from you.

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

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

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

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Father Callan’s Commentary on 2 Corinthians 12:1-10

Posted by Dim Bulb on May 13, 2017


A Summary of 2 Corinthians 12:1-10~St. Paul has just proved that he far excels his enemies in the way he has exercised his Apostolic ministry and in the tribulations he has suffered for the Gospel. But in a third particular he has still more surpassed them, namely, in the extraordinary gifts with which he has been favored by God. For the
sake, therefore, of giving greater proof of his divine commission, and incidentally to confound his adversaries further, he now speaks of his visions and revelations. He might give many instances, but he prefers, out of humility, to give only one, which, however, is a very striking one. It is more pleasing to him to rejoice in his infirmities and to be judged by his labors and preaching, than to glory in his visions. And since it has pleased God to visit him with heavy crosses, lest he should be puffed up by the magnitude of his revelations, he will glory in his infirmities by which he merits the divine assistance.

2 Cor 12:1. If I must glory (it is not expedient indeed) : but I will come to the visions and revelations of the Lord.

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

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

If (Vulg., si) should be omitted.

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

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

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

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

Above is not expressed in the Greek.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Father Callan’s Commentary on 2 Corinthians 11:7-15

Posted by Dim Bulb on May 12, 2017


A Summary of 2 Corinthians 11:7-15~Although St. Paul had a right to temporal support from the faithful, he willingly surrendered this for the sake of greater reward and greater success in his preaching (1 Cor. 9:1-18). The false teachers, however, observed the contrary practice. They not only took support from the faithful, but they pointed to St. Paul’s way of acting as unbecoming an Apostle and as a sign that he was not a true Apostle. Beginning, therefore, to show, not only his equality with his adversaries, but his vast superiority to them, the Apostle recalls first to the Corinthians the integrity of his life among them. He then goes on to say that he will continue to preach the Gospel gratis in Achaia, so that his enemies will not be able to boast at least this equality with him; they are not true Apostles anyway, but ministers of Satan.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Father Callan’s Commentary on 2 Corinthians 11:1-6

Posted by Dim Bulb on May 12, 2017


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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