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Bible Commentaries
2 Corinthians 2

Alford's Greek Testament Critical Exegetical CommentaryAlford's Greek Testament Commentary

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Verse 1

1. ] δέ is merely transitional, and does not imply any contrast with what has preceded.

ἐμαυτῷ , not = παρ ʼ ἐμαυτῷ (as most Commentators and E. V.), but ‘dat. commodi,’ for my own sake , as is evident by the consideration in the next verse.

τοῦτο refers to what follows: see reff.

τὸ μὴ πάλιν ἐν λύπῃ πρὸς ὑμᾶς ἐλθεῖν ] not again to come to you in grief . This is the only fair rendering of the words; implying, that some former visit had been in grief . Clearly the first visit Acts 18:1 ff., could not be thus described: we must therefore infer, that an intermediate unrecorded visit had been paid by him. On this subject, compare ch. 2Co 12:14 ; 2Co 13:1 and notes: and see Prolegg. to 1 Cor. § v.

ἐν λύπῃ ] is explained in 2Co 2:2-3 to mean (so Estius, Bengel, Rückert, Olsh., De Wette, al.) in mutual grief : ‘I grieving you ( 2Co 2:2 ), and you grieving me’ ( 2Co 2:3 ): not, as Chrys., al., Paul’s grief alone, nor, as Meyer, al., grief inflicted on them by Paul.

Verses 1-4


Verse 2

2. ] γάρ , reason why I would not come to you in grief: because I should have to grieve those who formed my proper material for thankfulness and joy.

ἐγώ has a peculiar emphasis: ‘If I cause you grief’.… implying, ‘there are who cause you sufficient.’

καί prefixed to a question denotes inconsequence on , or inconsistency with , the foregoing supposition or affirmation: so Eur. Med. 1388, ὦ τέκνα φίλτατα ! “ μητρί γε , σοὶ δ ʼ οὔ .” κἄπειτ ʼ ἔκτας ; see other examples in Hartung, Partikellehre, i. p. 147. It is best expressed in English by ‘ then :’ who is he then , &c. as in E. V.

The explanation of Chrys., who has been followed by Erasm., Bengel, Olsh., al., is curious, and certainly inconsistent with the context: εἰ καὶ λυπῶ ὑμᾶς , χάριν μοι παρέχετε κἀν τούτῳ μεγίστην , ὅτι δάκνεσθε ὑπὸ τῶν παρ ʼ ἐμοῦ λεγομένων . Hom. iv. p. 456. Some of these Commentators refer the singular to the offender, 2 Corinthians 2:5-8 . But however the words may bear the meaning, and however true the saying might be, it is pretty clear that it would be beside the subject: nay, would give a reason the other way, why he should come to them.

Verse 3

3. ] ἔγραψα τοῦτο αὐτό , I put in writing this same thing , viz. the τοῦτο which I ἔκρινα , 2 Corinthians 2:1 ; the announcement of my change of purpose in 1 Corinthians 16:7 , which had occasioned the charge of fickleness against him. The theories of Commentators have given rise to various interpretations of τοῦτο αὐτό : Chrys. understands, ch. 2Co 12:21 of this same Epistle : Beza, Meyer, al., my blame of you in the first Epistle : so Estius, especially 1 Corinthians 4:19 ; 1 Corinthians 4:21 : Bleek supposes a lost Epistle to be referred to: De Wette wavers, but is disposed with Erasm., Rückert, al., to render αὐτὸ τοῦτο ‘ on this account ,’ as Plato, Protag. p. 310, ἀλλ ʼ αὐτὰ ταῦτα καὶ νῦν ἥκω : but Meyer rejoins, that this idiom is foreign to the style of Paul. I imagine that two meanings are open to us: (1) as above, the announcement which caused the charge of fickleness: (2) the reproaches in the 1 st Epistle which grieved them. Of these, specious as is the latter on account of the following context, I prefer the former because of the τοῦτο in 2 Corinthians 2:1 .

ἀφ ʼ ὧν , ellipt. for ἀπὸ τούτων , ἀφ ʼ ὧν , see reff.

πεποιθὼς .… ] having trust in (reposing trust on) you all, that my joy is (the pres. expressing the purport of the trust when felt) that of all of you : i.e. trusting that you too would feel that there was sufficient reason for the postponement, if it interfered with cur mutual joy. Meyer well observes, that πάντας ὑμᾶς , in spite of the existence of an anti-pauline faction in the Corinthian church, is a true example of the love which πάντα πιστεύει , πάντα ἐλπίζει , 1 Corinthians 13:7 .

Verse 4

4 .] Explanation ( γάρ ) that he did not write in levity of purpose , but under great trouble of mind , not to grieve them, but to testify his love. ἐκ , of the inducement διὰ , of the condition : he wrote, out of much tribulation (inward, of spirit, not outward) and anguish ( συνοχή , ‘ angustiæ ’) of heart, with (q. ‘through,’ the state being the vehicle of the action, see reff.) many tears.

τ . ἀγάπην , before the conjunction ἵνα , for special emphasis: see reff.

περισσοτέρως than to other churches (?)’ so Chrys. (referring to 1 Corinthians 4:15 ; 1Co 9:2 ), Theophyl.: Estius thinks, the comparative is not to be pressed, but understood as [some take the adjective] in 2 Corinthians 2:7 , ‘ exceedingly .’

Verse 5

5 .] δέ , transitional. Now if any one hath occasioned sorrow (a delicate way of pointing out the one who had occasioned it), he hath grieved, not me (not, ‘not only me,’ which destroys the meaning, ‘ I am not the aggrieved person, but you ’), but, [in part (i.e.] more or less , partially :’ ref.), that I be not too heavy on him (refers to ἀπὸ μέρους , which qualifies the blame cast on the offender), all of you . The above punctuation and rendering is adopted by Chrys. ( ἵνα μὴ βαρήσω ἐκεῖνον τὸν πορνεύσαντα , p. 459), Beza, Calvin (but not in his text ), al., with Meyer, De Wette. But Theodoret, Vulg., Luther, Bengel, Wetst., al., join ἐπιβαρῶ πάντας ὑμ ., thus: ‘ he hath not grieved me (alone and principally) but only in part (having grieved you also), that I may not lay the fault on all of you ,’ which I should in this case do, by making myself the only person aggrieved, and classing you with the offender. But this can hardly be; ἀλλά must be εἰ μή .

Another way is adopted by Mosheim, Billroth, and Olsh., to join πάντας with ἵνα μὴ ἐπιβ ., ‘ but in part, that I burden not all, you :’ ἐπιβαρῶ being variously understood, either (1) of including you in the blame of the offender, or (2) as Olsh., of extending to them all the burden of this sorrow; he supposes it to be ironically spoken; their highest praise would have been that all had been troubled. But as Meyer remarks, irony is entirely out of place in this part of the Epistle. The meanings are well discussed in Stanley.

Verses 5-11

5 11 .] DIGRESSIVE REFERENCE TO THE CASE OF THE INCESTUOUS PERSON, WHOM THE APOSTLE ORDERS NOW TO BE FORGIVEN, AND REINSTATED. From the λύπη of the former verses, to him who was one of the principal occasions of that grief, the transition is easy.

Verse 6

6 .] ἱκανόν , sc. either ἐστιν or ἔστω .

τῷ τοιούτῳ ] Meyer remarks on the expression as being used in mildness, not to designate any particular person: but the same designation is employed in 1 Corinthians 5:5 , παραδοῦναι τὸν τοιοῦτον τῷ σατανᾷ .

ἡ ἐπιτ . αὕτη ] This punishment (= ἐπιτίμιον , see reff.): what it was , we are unable with certainty to say; but 1 Corinthians 5:0 seems to point to excommunication as forming at least a part of it. But it was not a formal and public, only a voluntary individual abstinence from communion with him, as is shewn by ὑπὸ τῶν πλειόνων : the anti-pauline party probably refusing compliance with the Apostle’s command.

ἱκανόν ] enough , not in duration , though that would be the case , but in magnitude : sufficient, as having produced its desired effect, penitence.

Verse 7

7. ] so that (conseq. on ἱκανόν ) on the contrary you (should) [rather (than continue the punishment)] forgive and comfort him , &c. Meyer denies that δεῖν should be supplied, and makes ὥστε depend immediately on ἱκανόν , ‘ enough, for you to forgive and console him .’

τῇ περισσοτέρᾳ λύπῃ ] not, as E. V., ‘ by overmuch sorrow :’ but (as Meyer), by the increase of sorrow which will come on the continuance of his punishment.

καταποθῇ does not set any definite result of the excessive sorrow before them, such as apostasy or suicide, but leaves them to imagine such possible.

Verse 8

8. ] κυρῶσαι , hardly (as usually understood) to ratify by a public decree of the church : if (see above) his exclusion was not by such a decree, but only by the abstinence of individuals from his society, the ratifying their love to him would consist in the majority making it evident to him that he was again recognized as a brother.

Verse 9

9 .] Reason why they should now be ready to shew love to him again, the end of Paul’s writing to them having been accomplished by their obeying his order. For to this end I also wrote : the καί signifying that my former epistle, as well as my present exhortation, tended to this, viz. the testing your obedience . Meyer (Exodus 2:0 ) explains the καί as implying that other orders to the same effect were sent by word of mouth. He alludes beyond doubt to the former Epistle, ch. 5. Yet the ancient Commentators, Chrys., &c., and Erasm., Wolf, Bengel, al. (not Olsh., as De Wette says), interpret it of this Epistle : which certainly is grammatically allowable (see 1 Corinthians 5:9 , note), but opposed to the context (see 2 Corinthians 2:3-4 , besides the manifest sense here, that the object of his writing had been accomplished) . That I might know the proof of you, whether in all things (emphatic) ye are obedient . This was that one among the various objects of his first Epistle, which belonged to the matter at present in hand, and which he therefore puts forward: not by any means implying that he had no other view in writing it.

Verse 10

10 .] Another assurance to encourage them in forgiving and reinstating the penitent; that they need not be afraid of lack of apostolic authority or confirmation of their act from above he would ratify their forgiveness by his sanction.

ῳ δὲ ] ‘ Your forgiveness is mine :’ not said generally (as Meyer), but definitely, pointing at the one person here spoken of and no other.

κἀγώ , scil. χαρίζομαι . Then he substantiates this assurance, by further assuring them, that his forgiveness of any fault in this case, if it takes place, takes place on their account . Meyer’s (former: now (4th edn.) abandoned) and Rückert’s rendering of κεχάρισμαι as passive , disturbs the whole sense of the passage, besides being inconsistent with the N.T. usage of the word, see reff.

ἐν προσώπῳ χριστοῦ ] either ‘ in the presence of Christ ,’ as in ref. Prov. (compare Mat 21:42 ), so Theodoret, Erasm., Beza, Calv., Olsh., De W., or, and far better, in the person of Christ , acting as Christ , in the same way as he had commanded the punishment ἐν τῷ ὀνόματι τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ , 1 Corinthians 5:4 ; so Vulg., Estius (who argues the matter at some length), Wetst., al.

Verse 11

11. ἵνα μὴ ] follows out the δι ʼ ὑμᾶς to prevent Satan getting any advantage over us (the Church generally: or better, us Apostles) , in robbing us of some of our people, viz. in causing the penitent offender to despair and fall away from the faith. Chrys. remarks: πλεονεξίαν εἰκότως ἐκάλεσεν , ὅταν καὶ διὰ τῶν ἡμετέρων κρατῇ . τὸ γὰρ δι ʼ ἁμαρτίας λαμβάνειν , ἴδιον αὐτῷ ἐστι · τὸ μέντοι διὰ μετανοίας , οὐκέτι · ἡμέτερον γάρ , οὐκ ἐκείνου , τὸ ὅπλον . p. 462. The word has yet another propriety: the offender was to be delivered over τῷ σατανᾷ εἰς ὄλεθρον τῆς σαρκός care must be taken lest we πλεονεκτηθῶμεν ὑπὸ τοῦ ς ., and his soul perish likewise .

οὐ γὰρ …] αὐτοῦ before τὰ νοήμ . for emphasis: such devices, as coming from him , are special matters of observation and caution to every Christian minister; much more to him who had the care of all the churches. See 1 Peter 5:8 .

The personality and agency of the Adversary can hardly be recognized in plainer terms than in both these passages.

Verse 12

12 .] To Troas , viz. on his journey from Ephesus, Acts 20:1-2 ; 1 Corinthians 16:5-9 . “The art. perhaps indicates the region of ‘the Troad,’ rather than the city.” Stanley.

εἰς τὸ εὐαγγ . τ . χρ .] for (the purpose of preaching) the Gospel of Christ . He had been before at Troas, but the vision of a Macedonian asking for help prevented his remaining there. He now revisited it, purposely to stay and preach. On his return to Asia he remained there seven days, Acts 20:6-12 .

καὶ θύρας ] and an opportunity of apostolic action being afforded me; ἐν κυρίῳ defines the sort of action implied, and to which the door was opened. It is remarkable that in speaking of this journey, though not of the same place, Paul uses this expression, 1 Corinthians 16:9 . Compare the interesting passage at Troas on his return from Europe the next spring, Acts 20:6-13 .

Verses 12-17


δέ serves to resume the main subject after parenthetical matter: so Herod. viii. 67, ἐπεὶ ὦν ἀπίκατο ἐς τὰς Ἀθήνας πάντες οὗτοι πλὴν Παρίων · Παρίοι δὲ ὑπολειφθέντες ἐν Κύθνῳ ἐκαραδόκεον τὸν πόλεμον κῆ ἀποβήσεται · οἱ δὲ λοιποὶ ὡς ἀπίκοντο ἐς τὸ Φάληρον , κ . τ . λ . See Hartung, Partikellehre, i. 174.

Verse 13

13. ἔσχηκα ἄνεσιν ] perf. in the sense of aorist, as ch. 2 Corinthians 1:9 . I had not rest for my spirit (not, ‘ in my spirit:’ compare οὐχ εὑροῦσα ἡ περιστερὰ ἀνάπαυσιν τοῖς ποσὶν αὐτῆς , Gen 8:9 ). He could not with any tranquillity prosecute the spiritual duties opened to him at Troas.

τῷ μὴ εὑρ .] by (reason of) my not finding : see reff.

Paul had sent Titus to Corinth, ch. 2 Corinthians 12:18 , partly to finish the collection for the saints, but principally to bring intelligence respecting the effect of the first Epistle. Probably it had been fixed that they should meet at Troas.

τ . ἀδελ . μου implies a relation closer than merely that of Christian brotherhood my colleague in the Apostleship.

αὐτοῖς ] the disciples there: understood from the context.

Verse 14

14. θριαμβεύοντι ] leading us in triumph , see ref. Two kinds of persons were led in triumph: the participators of the victory , and the victims of the defeat . In Col. the latter are plainly meant; here, according to many Commentators (Calv., Elsner, Bengel, De Wette, al.), the former : which however is never elsewhere the reference of the word, but it always implies triumphare de aliquo . Wetst. quotes this sense, βασιλεῖς ἐθριάμβευσε , Plut. Rom. p. 38 D, and in four other places: and the Scholiast to Hor. Od. i. 37. 31, who relates of Cleopatra, “invidens Privata deduci superbo Non humilis mulier triumpho,” that she refused the terms offered her by Augustus, saying, οὐ θριαμβευθήσομαι . Meyer in consequence understands it in this sense here: who ever triumphs over us , i.e. ‘who ceases not to exhibit us, His former foes, as overcome by Him:’ and adds in a note, “Remark the emphatic πάντοτε , prefixed, to which the similarly emphatic ἐν παντὶ τόπῳ , at the end, corresponds. God began His triumph over the ἡμεῖς at their conversion; over Paul, at Damascus, where he made him a servant, from being an enemy. This triumph he ever continues, not ceasing to exhibit before the world these His former foes, by the results of their present service, as overcome by Him. This, in the case before us, was effected by Paul, in that (as Titus brought him word to Macedonia) his Epistle had produced such good results in Corinth.” De W. objects to this as a strange way of expressing thankfulness for deliverance from our anxiety. But is it so to those who look beneath the surface? In our spiritual course, our only true triumphs are, God’s triumphs over us. His defeats of us , are our only real victories. I own that this yet appears to me to be the only admissible rendering . We must not violate the known usage of a word, and invent another for which there is no precedent, merely for the sake of imagined perspicuity. Such is that of ‘to make to triumph’ (Beza, Estius, Grot., al.): μαθητεύειν , Matthew 28:19 , and βασιλεύειν , 1 Kings 8:22 , are not cases in point, their sense being, to ‘make a disciple,’ ‘to make a king,’ whereas that required for θριαμβεύειν , would be, ‘ triumphatorem facere.’ χορεύειν , for ‘to make to dance,’ is more to the point: οὔπω καταπαύσομεν μούσας , αἵ μ ʼ ἐχόρευσαν , Eur. Herc. Fur. 688, τάχα σ ʼ ἐγὼ μᾶλλον χορεύσω , ib. 873: but the Apostle’s own usage in ref. Col., in my mind, decides the question. See also the following context.

ἐν τῷ χρ ., as usually, in our connexion with , ‘ as members of ,’ Christ : not, ‘by Christ.’

τὴν ὀσμήν ] The similitude is not that of a sacrifice , but still the same as before: during a triumph, sweet spices were thrown about or burnt in the streets, which were θυμιαμάτων πλήρεις , Plut. Æmil. p. 272 (cited by Dr. Burton). As the fact of the triumph, or approach of the triumphal procession, was made known by these odours far and wide, so God diffuses by our means, who are the materials of His triumph, the sweet odour of the knowledge of Christ (who is the Triumpher, Col 2:15 ).

τῆς γνώσ .] genit. of apposition: the odour , which in the interpretation of the figure, is the knowledge.

αὐτοῦ , χριστοῦ , cf. next verse.

Verses 14-17

14 17 .] Omitting, as presupposed, the fact of his having met with Titus in Macedonia, and the nature of the intelligence which he brought, he grounds on these a thanksgiving for that intelligence, and a magnification of his apostolic office . It is evidently beside the purpose to refer this thanksgiving to the diffusion of the gospel in Macedonia (as Flatt), or in Troas (as Emmerling), or to general considerations (as Bengel): both the context, and the language itself (see below), shew that its reference is to the effects of the apostolic reproof on the Corinthians.

Verse 15

15 .] Here the propriety of the figure is lost, and the source of the odour identified with the Apostles themselves. For we are to God a sweet savour of Christ (gen. object., of that which was diffused by the odour, viz. the knowledge of Christ . ‘Instar fragrantis cujusdam unguenti, seu florum aut herbarum, famam nominis ejus, velut bonum et suavem odorem,.… spargimus apud omnes.’ Estius) among those who are being saved, and among those who are perishing ( σωζ . and ἀπολλ ., see note, 1Co 1:18 ). κἂν σώζωνταί τινες , κἂν ἀπολλύωνται , τὸ εὐαγγέλιον μένει ἔχον τὴν οἰκείαν ἀρετήν , κ . ἡμεῖς μένομεν τοῦτο ὄντες ὅπερ ἐσμέν , Theophyl., mainly from Chrys., who proceeds καὶ καθάπερ τὸ φῶς , κἂν σκοτίζῃ τοὺς ἀσθενεῖς , φῶς ἐστι , καίτοι σκοτίζον · κ . τὸ μέλι , κἂν πικρὸν ᾖ τοῖς νοσοῦσι , γλυκὺ τὴν φύσιν ἐστίν · οὕτω καὶ τὸ εὐαγγέλιον εὐῶδές ἐστι , κἂν ἀπολλύωνταί τινες ἀπιστοῦντες . Hom. v. p. 467.

Verse 16

16 b.] In order to understand the connexion, we must remember that the purpose of vindicating his apostolic commission is in the mind of Paul, and about to be introduced by a description of the office, its requirements, and its holders. This purpose already begins to press into its service the introductory and apologetic matter, and to take every opportunity of manifesting itself. In order then to exalt the dignity and shew the divine authorization of his office, he asks this question: And (see remarks at 2Co 2:2 ) for (to accomplish) these things (this so manifold working in the believers and unbelievers, this emission of the εὐωδία χριστοῦ every where), who is sufficient? He does not express the answer, but it is too evident to escape any reader, indeed it is supplied in terms by ch. 2 Corinthians 3:5 , οὐχ ὅτι ἱκανοί ἐσμεν λογίσασθαί τι ἀφ ʼ ἑαυτῶν ὡς ἐξ ἑαυτῶν , ἀλλ ʼ ἡ ἱκανότης ἡμῶν ἐκ τοῦ θεοῦ .

Meyer remarks that πρὸς ταῦτα is put first, in the place of emphasis, to detain the attention on its weighty import, and then τίς purposely put off till the end of the question, to introduce the interrogation unexpectedly; as in Herod. 2:33, σοὶ δὲ κ . τούτοισι τοῖσι πρήγμασι τί ἔστι ; Plato, Symp. p. 204, ὁ ἐρῶν τῶν καλῶν τί ἐρᾷ ;

Verse 17

17. ] οἱ πολλοί here points definitely at those false teachers, of whom he by and by, ch. 10 12, speaks more plainly.

ἐσμεν καπηλεύοντες ] are not in the habit of adulterating (the word κάπηλος ( Sir 26:29 ) originally signifies any kind of huckster or vender, but especially of wine, and thence, from the frequency of adulteration of wine, καπηλεύω implied to adulterate : in Isaiah 1:22 , we have οἱ κάπηλοί σου μίσγουσι τὸν οἶνον ὕδατι : in the Etymol. (Wetst.) κάπηλος , ὁ οἰνοπώλης … ὁ δὲ Αἰσχύλος τὰ δόλια πάντα καλεῖ κάπηλα · ‘ κάπηλα προφέρων τεχνήματα :’ in Lucian, Hermotim. 59 (ib.), ὅτι καὶ φιλόσοφοι ἀποδίδονται τὰ μαθήματα , ὥσπερ οἱ κάπηλοι , κερασάμενοί γε οἱ πολλοί , καὶ δολώσαντες , καὶ κακομετροῦντες . See many more examples in Wetst. The same is expressed ch. 2 Corinthians 4:2 , by δολοῦντες τ . λόγον τ . θεοῦ ) the word of God, but as (‘ut qui’) from sincerity (the subjective regard of the speakers), but as from God (the objective regard a dependence on the divine suggestion) we speak before God (with a consciousness of His presence) in Christ (not ‘ in the name of Christ ,’ Grot., al., nor ‘ concerning Christ ,’ Beza, al.: nor ‘ according to Christ ,’ Calv.: but as usual, in Christ : as united to Him, and members of His Body, and employed in His work).

Bibliographical Information
Alford, Henry. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 2". Alford's Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/hac/2-corinthians-2.html. 1863-1878.
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