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Bible Commentaries
2 Corinthians 13

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Verses 1-99

13:1-10. The warnings connected with his approaching visit are continued, but there is not much more to be said, and he says it concisely. His concluding charges are given with Apostolic firmness and decision. He explains to them what they may expect from him (1-4), what they must do themselves (5-9), and why he writes before coming (10).

1. Τρίτον τοῦτο ἔρχομαι πρὸς ὑμᾶς. ‘For the third time I am now coming to you,’ or, ‘This is the third time I am coming to you’; cf. 12:14. It is possible to understand the words otherwise, for some eminent scholars do so, but the only natural meaning is that he has already paid two visits to Corinth (the long one, when he founded the Church, and the short one, when its members treated him so badly), and that he is about to pay a third. Lightfooot finds 12:14 and 13:1, 2 “inexplicable under any other hypothesis.” Alford says that “had not chronological theories intervened, no one would ever have thought of any other rendering.” See on 12:14.

ἐπὶ στόματος δύο μαρτύρων καὶ τριῶν. The citation is slightly abbreviated; in Deuteronomy 19:15 the words after καί run ἐπὶ στόματος τριῶν μαρτύρων στήσεται πᾶν π̔ῆμα. In 1 Timothy 5:19 we have ἤ for καί, and some texts have ἤ here, but the sense is much the same whichever reading we adopt.* Logically ‘three’ should come first; ‘three witnesses, and (or) two, if three are not to be had’; but it is natural to put ‘two’ before ‘three.’


It is more important, and less easy, to decide why St Paul introduces this quotation. He may mean that he is going to hold a formal investigation, in which everything will be conducted according to the law which he quotes. The accused will not be condemned unless the accusation is proved to be true on adequate testimony. He may also mean that he is not going to claim to have received revelations about the Corinthians’ conduct; he will act upon human testimony, which can be sifted.


But is it likely that he was about to hold a court in which charges of misconduct could be made by one Corinthian Christian against another? Would he give facilities for any such proceedings? The sins with which he is about to deal are flagrant sins, which those who committed them did not conceal, because (as they claimed) they were not sins, but acts which the emancipated Christian was free to commit, if they pleased him. There was no need of witnesses; Corinthians who gloried in their shame would be condemned out of their own mouth, and there would be no room for an Inquisition.


Again, καὶ τριῶν appears to have a definite relation to τρίτον τοῦτο, and the hypothesis of an Inquisition gives no link between the two.

To avoid these difficulties, Chrysostom and Theodoret, with Calvin and some moderns, suggest that the visits to Corinth, two paid and one about to be paid, are the three witnesses. On the previous occasions he has found much that he was obliged to condemn, and he fears that during the third visit he may find a great deal of the same kind. That will amount to threefold testimony against them. True that it is the testimony of only one witness, but it is not mere repetition of the same evidence, for he bears witness to three different groups of fact. This is not a very attractive interpretation, but St Paul’s manner of using Scripture is sometimes so free that we can hardly reject this interpretation as unworthy of him. Nevertheless, if we accept it, we need not suppose with Bousset that St Paul makes the suggestion that three visits are equivalent to three witnesses ‘humorously.’ The Apostle is speaking with the utmost seriousness and gravity. Hence the impressive asyndeton of the opening sentences. But with regard to the rival interpretations of the Apostle’s meaning we must be content to remain in doubt.

πᾶν ῥῆμα. In the original text (Deuteronomy 19:15) either rendering may be right, ‘shall a matter be established’ or ‘shall a word be confirmed,’ i.e. regarded as valid (Numbers 30:5). In the quotation in Matthew 18:16, ‘every word may be established’ (AV, RV), is douthetless correct, and it may be correct here (AV, RV); but ‘matter’ or ‘thing’ makes equally good sense, although there is no alternative rendering in either margin. It is better to avoid a translation which implies that the Apostle is about to hold a tribunal in which Corinthians will bring charges against their fellow-Christians. He is going to pronounce sentence on those whose conduct is notorious and is not denied.

2. προείρηκα καὶ προλέγω ὡς παρὼν τὸ δεύτερον καὶ�. In order to make quite clear the balance between προείρηκα and προλέγω, and between παρὼν τὸ δεύτερον and�

τοῖς προημαρτηκόσιν καὶ τοῖς λοιποῖς πᾶσιν. ‘To those who continued in sin before (during my second visit, as in 12:21) and to all the rest, viz., all those who have lapsed into sin since that visit.’ St Paul is fond of stringing together words compounded with the same preposition, esp. πρό. Cf. 9:5; Galatians 5:21; Romans 8:29; 1 Timothy 1:18, 1 Timothy 1:5:24; 2 Timothy 3:4; κατά, 11:20; 1 Corinthians 11:4, 1 Corinthians 11:5; μετά, 7:10; παρά, 1 Timothy 1:18; ὑπέρ see on ὑπεραίρομαι; 12:7.

ἐὰν ἔλθω εἰς τὸ πάλιν οὐ φείσομαι. ‘If I come for the third time, I will not spare.’ Εἰς τὸ πάλιν seems to be a unique expression; but ἐς τὸ ὕστερον occurs Thuc. ii. 20. It is amphibolous here, but must be taken with what precedes. There is no hint of hesitation in the ἐάν (cf. 1 Corinthians 16:10; 1 John 2:1; 3 John 1:10). In such cases ‘if’ is almost equivalent to ‘when,’ but the possibility of an unexpected hindrance is recognized. But St Paul may be quoting what he said at the unfruitful second visit; ‘If I come back again, I shall not spare.’

οὐ φείσομαι. He may have been too lenient previously; but there will be nothing of the kind now.* We have no means of knowing what manner of punishment he intends to inflict, but may conjecture public censure, degradation in public worship, and excommunication. That he would employ supernatural power to inflict bodily sickness and suffering is also possible; see on 1 Corinthians 5:5 and 1 Timothy 1:20.


νῦν (א A B D* G, Latt.) rather than νῦν γράφω (D 3 E K L P, Syrr. Arm. Goth.) or νῦν λέγω (Copt. Aeth.). Some later Latin texts corrupted the bis after ut praesens into vobis, then vobis was struck out as having no authority, and thus bis is omitted in the Clem. Vulg.

3. ἐπεὶ δοκιμὴν ζητεῖτε. This is closely connected with what precedes, and there should be at most a semicolon (RV) at the end of v. 2. He will not spare, because the Corinthians themselves have made it impossible for him to do so; ‘seeing that ye are seeking a proof (2:9, 8:2, 9:13) of the Christ that speaketh in me’. They demanded that the Apostle should give some convincing sign that Christ was working in him. Christ ought to manifest His power in him. That made it necessary for St Paul to show how severely Christ condemned such sins as theirs, when there was no repentance. This seems to point to the supernatural infliction of suffering. There is perhaps something of irony in this. ‘You want a proof that the power of Christ is in me. You shall have it,—in a form that will not please you.’

εἰς ὑμᾶς οὐκ�. Chiasmus once more, as in 12:9, 20, etc.; ‘Who to youward is not weak, but is powerful in you.’ Δυνατέω is peculiar to Paul in Bibl. Grk., who uses it always of Divine power. When he wants a contrast to human weakness, he uses δυνατός εἰμι (v. 9, 12:10); but this may be accidental. Neither towards the Corinthians nor among them had Christ shown Himself to be wanting in power. There was the amazing fact of ‘saints’ in such a city as Corinth. There were the spiritual gifts which had been so richly bestowed upon many members of the Church, and of which some of them had been so proud. And there were the σημεῖά τε καὶ τέρατα καὶ δυνάμεις wrought by the Apostle himself (12:12). Scepticism in the case of men who had had these experiences was wilful scepticism; they did not wish to be convinced. But when he comes they shall have evidence which they cannot resist.

4. καὶ γὰρ ἐσταυρώθη ἐξ�. ‘For it is quite true (καί) that He was crucified through weakness.’ This explains v. 3, as v. 3 explains v. 2, and in each case there should not be more than a semicolon between the verses. To those who were on the broad way that leads to destruction the doctrine of a crucified Christ was, of course, foolishness (1 Corinthians 1:18), and St Paul is here anticipating the objection that there could not be much power in a Christ who could not save Himself from crucifixion. He admits that in a sense it was through weakness that Christ was crucified; His father and He willed that He should submit to an infamous death. But that took place once for all (aor.), and now through the power of God He is alive for evermore. The ἐκ in each case marks the source; cf. 11:26. With ἐξ�Philippians 2:7, Philippians 2:8; Hebrews 5:8; with ἐκ δυνάμεως Θεοῦ cf. Romans 6:4, Romans 6:8:11; Philippians 2:9.

καὶ γὰρ ἡμεῖς�. Another explanation of what immediately precedes. The fact that both weakness and power have been exhibited in the case of Christ is all the more credible, because the very same surprising change is found to take place in those who have such real union with Him; ‘For we also are weak in Him, yet we shall live with Him through the power of God toward you.’ Incidentally we here see how intensely real to St Paul was his union with Christ. In this he is ever a mystic. He is again referring to vigorous action during the remainder of his life, especially to what will be manifested in his impending visit to Corinth. Even if εἰς ὑμᾶς is not original, ἡμεῖς probably means ‘we Apostles’ rather than ‘we Christians.’ The Corinthians have to deal with a Christ who was raised from death to power, and with Christ’s Apostle who has been saved from many deaths to do work for Him.


St Paul uses both the classical fut. of ζάω as well as the later form ζήσομαι, but the latter occurs mostly in quotations from LXX.

The εἰ before ἐσταυρὡθη (א3 A D3 E L, f Vulg. Syrr.) may be omitted with א* B D* G K P 17, d e g Memph. After�F G, f g Copt.). ζήσομεν (א A B D* 17) rather than ζήσωμεν (G) or ζησόμεθα (D3 E K L). B D3 E, Arm., Chrys. (twice) omit εἰς ὑμᾶς, which Vulg. renders in vobis, as if we had ἐν ὑμῖν, as in v. 3.

5. ἑαυτοὺς πειράζετεἑαυτοὺς δοκιμάζετε. The pronouns are very emphatic; ‘It is your own selves that you must continually test, … your own selves that you must continually prove’ (pres. imperat.). The Corinthians thought that it was their business to test him, whether he was an Apostle speaking with the authority of Christ (v. 3). He is prepared to give them proof of this; but what they ought to be doing is testing themselves, whether they are in the faith and Christ is in them. Πειράζω here, as often, has the neutral meaning of ‘test’ or ‘try,’ without any notion of tempting to evil; see Swete on Revelation 2:2 and Hort on 1 Peter 1:7, and cf. John 6:6; James 1:2. The testing would be self-examination in accordance with Matthew 7:16; ‘By their fruits ye shall know them’; were they living Christian lives? Δοκιμάζω is never used in the sense of tempting to evil; it may be neutral (Luke 12:56, Luke 14:19), but it commonly means ‘proving in the expectation of approving’ (8:22;1 Corinthians 11:28; 1 Corinthians 11:28; Romans 2:18, Romans 2:14:22; Ephesians 5:10; 1 Thessalonians 2:4). This may be the reason why St Paul adds it after πειράζετε: ‘Test yourselves; and I sincerely hope that you will stand the test.’ More probably he adds the word in order to prepare the way for�Romans 1:28.

ἐν τῇ πίστει. An expression of comprehensive meaning, ‘the principles of the new spiritual life.’ On the hypothesis of the integrity of 2 Corinthians it is difficult to understand how the Apostle could tell them to test themselves as to whether they are in the faith after having assured them that τῇ πίστει ἑστήκατε (1:24) and ἑ παντὶ περισσεύετε, καὶ λογῳ κ.τ.λ. If he first told them to test themselves, and in a later letter assured them that he was quite satisfied, all runs quite naturally.

ἢ οὐκ ἐπιγινώσκετε ἑαυτούς; ‘Or know ye not as to your own selves, that Jesus Christ is in you?’ The interrogative ἤ is not rare; 1 Corinthians 6:16; Romans 6:3, Romans 6:9:21; Matthew 7:4, Matthew 7:9. As in 1 Corinthians 13:12, the compound verb probably implies complete knowledge; he thinks that they must be quite sure that Christ is in them,—unless, of course, they are leading utterly unChristian lives.

εἰ μήτι�. ‘Unless perhaps ye be reprobates,’ i.e. are not accepted (δέχομαι) because you cannot stand the δοκιμασία. He is allowing for the distressing possibility that they may be disqualified. Both�1 Corinthians 9:27; Romans 1:28), and in LXX�


We ought perhaps to prefer Ἰησοῦς Χριστός (B D E K L, d e Syrr. Goth.) to χρ. Ἰης. א A F G P, f g Vulg. Copt. Arm.); see on 1:1. B D, Aeth. omit ἐστιν after ἐν ὑμῖν.

6. ʼλπίζω δὲ ὅτι γνώσεσθε. ‘But I hope that you will come to know that we are not reprobate.’ This might mean one of two things; ‘I anticipate that experience will teach you that Christ is in us with power to inflict punishment’; or, ‘I trust that your testing of yourselves will show that you are sound, and then you are sure to see that we are sound.’ It is the spiritual who can judge with sureness of the spiritual. That ἐλπίζω may mean ‘expect’ rather than ‘hope’ is clear from 8:5; but St Paul is not likely to have meant that he expected to be obliged to punish; he certainly hoped that no such proof of his power would be needed. The rapid changes between 1 sing. (vv. 2, 6) and 1 plur. (vv. 4, 7) should be noted. In all these cases he probably means himself only.

7. εὐχόμεθα δὲ πρὸς τὸν Θεόν. ‘But we pray unto God that you may do nothing evil.’ He has no desire to have any opportunity for proving his Apostolic power by inflicting punishment. He would rather that his Apostleship should be undemonstrated than that it should be demonstrated owing to their misconduct. That they should do what is noble is worth far more to him than that he should be able to give them proof of his being an Apostle of Christ. Εὔχομαι πρός occurs several times in LXX; Numbers 11:2, Numbers 11:21:7; 2 Kings 20:2; Job 22:27; Job_2 Macc. 15:27, which is just what we have here. The ἵνα here gives the purpose rather than the contents of his petition; the latter has been already expressed by acc. and infin.


Τὸ καλόν implies that the act is seen to be morally beautiful, and in Bibl. Grk. τὸ καλὸν ποιέω is peculiar to Paul (Galatians 6:9; Romans 7:21). Like αὐτάρκεια, ἐπιείκεια, πραότης, προαιρέομαι, and φαῦλος, it may be evidence of St Paul’s acquaintance with Greek philosophical language.

ὡς�. The ὡς means that he would in that case seem to be disqualified. He would not have stood the test; not because he had failed when tested, but because the test had never been applied to him. He could not exhibit his power of punishing, because there was no one who deserved punishment. He would welcome such a happy state of things, however much it might tell against himself.


εὐχὸμεθα (א A B D* G P 17, Latt.) is doubtless to be preferred to εὔχομαι (D3 E K L, Goth.).

8. οὐ γὰρ δυνάμεθα. He does not mean that no one can be successful in opposing the truth; magna est veritas et praevalet; a principle which has no special point here. He means that it would be utterly at variance with his character to take sides against the truth. Such a thing is morally impossible for him. All his life through he has been an ardent supporter of what he believed to be true, and what, since he became illuminated as a chosen Apostle of Christ, he knows to be true. This he can continue to be, and will. To rejoice in iniquity, because it gives him an advantage, is impossible for him. He cannot desire that they should be found to be doing wrong, in order that he may be proved to be right.

9. χαίρομεν γὰρ ὅταν ἡμεῖς�. ‘For we are not merely content, we rejoice whenever we are weak, through not being able to manifest our power, and ye are strong, through doing nothing that requires punishment or censure.’ Jonah was angry because the repentance of the Ninevites caused his prediction of their overthrow to be unfulfilled; but the Apostle is delighted whenever his Corinthians repent, or prove themselves to be in no need of repentance, and thus cause his promised demonstration of Apostolic power (vv. 3, 4) to be unfulfilled. The γάρ indicates that this verse is a confirmation of v. 8.

τοῦτο καὶ εὐχόμεθα, τὴν ὑμῶν κατάρτισιν. ‘This is an additional thing that we pray for, even your perfecting.’ To pray that they may go on to perfection is a great deal more than merely praying that they may do nothing evil (v. 7). AV mars the effect by translating εὔχομαι first ‘pray’ and then ‘wish.’ RV. is more accurate in having ‘pray’ in both places, and also in rendering κατάρτισις ‘perfecting’ rather than ‘perfection’; it is the growth in holiness that is meant. Cf. καταρτισμός (Ephesians 4:12). Neither noun is found elsewhere in Bibl. Grk., but the verb καταρτίζω (v. 11) is common enough. The original idea is that of ‘fitting together,’ whether of setting bones or reconciling parties, and hence in N.T. the verb is often used of setting right what has previously gone wrong, rectifying and restoring, rather than merely bringing onwards to perfection. See Lightfoot on 1 Thessalonians 3:10 and J. A. Robinson on Ephesians 4:12. Such a word is admirably suited to the context; it suggests, without necessarily implying, that at present things are wrong and that a process of rectification is needed. See on 1:6 for the Pauline usage of placing ὑμῶν between the art. and the substantive.


τοῦτο καί (א* A B D* P 17, Latt.) rather than τοῦτο δὲ καί א3 D3 E K L).

10. Διὰ τοῦτο. ‘For this cause,’ as 4:1, 7:13; 1 Corinthians 4:17, etc. ‘Therefore’ (AV) may be kept for οὖν (1:17, 3:12, 5:6, 11:20, etc.), and ‘wherefore’ for διό (1:20, 2:8, 4:13, etc.). It is because he desires their restoration and perfecting that he sends this letter before coming himself. But διὰ τοῦτο may possible anticipate ἵνα and refer to what follows.

ταῦτα�. ‘When absent I write these things, that when present I may not deal sharply.’ The rare adverb (Titus 1:13; Wisd. 5:22) reflects its meaning upon ταῦτα: he writes sharply, that he may not have to act sharply. Ἀπότομος occurs Wisd. 5:20, 6:5, 11:10, 12:9, 18:15, and nowhere else in Bibl. Grk. This is further evidence (see on 4:4, 5:1, 5:9, 6:3, 6, 7, 8:20, 10:3, 5) that St Paul knew the Book of Wisdom. Χράομαι with an adv. and no dat. occurs Job 34:20 (παρανόμως); Isaiah 28:21Daniel 8:7 (διαφόρως); Esther 1:19, Esther 9:27 (ἄλλως).

κατὰ τὴν ἐξουσίαν ἣν ὁ κύριος ἔδωκεν. This depends upon μὴ�


Throughout the passage the Apostle’s mind hovers between hope and fear, hope that the condition of the Corinthian Church may be better than he has been led to believe, and fear that he may have to use very drastic measures. There has been wrongdoing; of that there can be no doubt; he witnessed it himself during his second visit. But they may have repented, and there may have been no recurrence of grievous evils. On the other hand, the wrongdoers may be still impenitent, and others may be following their bad examples. He has no prejudice against any of them, and it will be a great delight to him to find that his misgivings are now baseless. But it is fair to them to declare plainly, that there will be a thorough investigation, and that impenitent transgressors, if they exist, will be severely dealt with. That unwelcome thought is now dismissed, and with a few affectionate sentences the Apostle brings his storm-tossed letter into a haven of love and peace.

13:11-13. CONCLUDING EXHORTATION, SALUTATION, AND BENEDICTION

If we adopt the hypothesis that the last four chapters are part of a letter written and sent before the first nine chapters, we need not, as some do, stop short at 13:10 as the end of the earlier fragment. Beyond reasonable doubt these remaining verses are the conclusion of the earlier letter, and from 10:1 to 13:13 (14) is all one piece. The change to an affectionate tone here, after the vehemence and severity of 10:1-8:10, is as natural and intelligible as the change in the opposite direction between chapters 9. and 10. is unnatural and perplexing.* Secondly, there are fairly conspicuous links between these concluding verses and those which immediately precede them; καταρτίζεσθε recalls τὴν ὑμῶν κατάρτισιν, while τὸ αὐτὸ φρονεῖτε, εἰρηνεύετε looks like a direct reference to his dread of finding ἔρις, ζῆλος, θυμοί κ.τ.λ. (12:20), rampant among them. There is nothing of the same kind between these concluding verses and the latter part of 9. Moreover, the hypothesis that the whole of the last portion of an earlier letter has become united with the whole of the first portion of a later one is not a violently improbable conjecture. That a section of the earlier letter has been inserted between the main portion and the conclusion of the later letter is much less easy to believe. See p. 385.

11. Λοιπόν. ‘Finally’; lit. ‘as to what remains’ (1 Corinthians 1:16, 1 Corinthians 1:4:2; 1 Thessalonians 4:1; 2 Timothy 4:8). Perhaps more colloquial than τὸ λοιπόν (2 Thessalonians 3:1). See Lightfoot on Philippians 3:1, and on 1 Thessalonians 4:1.

ἀδελφοί. Freq. in 1 Cor., rare in 2 Cor. 1—9., and here only in 2 Cor. 10-13. They are still his brothers.

χαίρετε. “Neither ‘farewell’ alone, nor ‘rejoice’ alone” (Lightfoot on Philippians 4:4); but here the meaning ‘farewell’ certainly prevails. ‘Rejoice’ would be rather incongruous after οὐ φείσομαι. Note the pres. imperat. in all the verbs; the good points indicated are to be lasting. ‘Continue to do all these things.’ There must be a considerable process day by day to bring about complete spiritual restoration.

καταρτίζεσθε. This seems clearly to refer to τὴν ὑμῶν κατάρτισιν (v. 9). ‘Work your way onwards to perfection.’ See on κατηρτισμένοι, 1 Corinthians 1:10, which is similar in meaning, and see the illustrations in Wetstein on Matthew 4:21. There is much that requires to be amended; many deficiencies remain to be made good, even if those who have been in sin are now penitent.

παρακαλεῖσθε. This might mean ‘be of good comfort’ (AV) or ‘be comforted’ (RV), but more probably it means ‘be exhorted,’ exhortamini (Vulg.), i.e. ‘listen to my exhortations and entreaties.’ For ‘comfort one another’ we should probably have παρακαλεῖτε�1 Thessalonians 4:18, 1 Thessalonians 5:11, or ἑαυτούς (cf. v. 5).

τὸ αὐτὸ φρονεῖτε. ‘Be of the same mind,’ ‘Be harmonious in thought and aim.’ All Churches needed this exhortation (Romans 12:16, Romans 12:15:5; Philippians 2:2, Philippians 4:2), but no Church more than that of Corinth. This fits on well to the renderings given above; ‘Farewell. Go on to perfection; follow my exhortations; be of the same mind.’ But such a sequence as ‘Rejoice; be perfected; be comforted; be of the same mind,’ is rather disjointed.

εἰρηνεύετε. ‘Live in peace’ (1 Thessalonians 5:13; Romans 12:18; Mark 9:50). In LXX the verb is specially freq. in Job and Ecclus., but nowhere is there the exhortation εἰρηνεύετε. It is the natural result of τὸ αὐτὸ φρονεῖν. But there is a more momentous result, which is the crown of all.

καὶ ὁ Θεὸς τῆς�. This corresponds to the two preceding exhortations, τῆς�Luke 10:6. Vulg. usually has caritas for�diligo to influence the rendering, it has dilectio. ‘The God of Peace’ is an expression which St Paul has elsewhere; Romans 15:33, Romans 15:16:20; Philippians 4:9; cf. 1 Corinthians 14:33; 2 Thessalonians 3:16; Hebrews 13:20. ‘The God of love’ is used nowhere else. Even if the two preceding exhortations had not suggested the order, St Paul would probably have put�Galatians 5:22). Some texts here change the order (D E L, d e Goth. Arm.), probably influenced by the passages in which ὁ Θεὸς τῆς εἰρήνης occurs.

12. Ἀσπάσασθε�. Salutations at the close of the letter are found in all four groups of the Pauline Epistles; those in 1 Corinthians 16:19-21 are specially full; still more so those in Romans 16:3-23. Cf. 1 Thessalonians 5:26; Colossians 4:10-15; Philemon 1:23; Titus 3:15; 2 Timothy 4:19-21. Papyri show that such salutations at the close of a letter were a common feature in ordinary correspondence, and�1 Corinthians 16:20, the πάντες comes at the end with emphasis. The Apostle is sure that all the Christians with whom he is in touch in Macedonia will desire to “send their love” to their brethren in Corinth.

ἐν ἁγίῳ φιλήματι. We must follow א B D E K P, d e in reading thus here. No doubt the order ἐν φιλ. ἁγίῳ has been adopted in A F G L, f g Vulg. to make this passage agree with 1 Corinthians 16:20; 1 Thessalonians 5:26; Romans 16:16. See the notes on all three of these passages respecting the φίλημα ἅλιον, and also Enc. Bibl. 4254, and Enc. Brit. art. ‘Pax.’ The suggestion that the ‘kiss of concord’ was already an institution in the synagogue has received confirmation from what seem to be Armenian quotations from Philo; and, if that is accepted, the view that the holy kiss in the Christian Church was never promiscuous, is confirmed. That the kiss given to a Rabbi suggested it is less probable. The sexes being separated in the synagogues, the men would kiss men, and the women would kiss women, and Christian assemblies would follow the same practice as a security that the φίλημα was ἅγιον. Nowhere in N.T. is the holy kiss connected with public worship. Justin (Apol. 1:65) connects it with the Eucharist, Tertullian (De Orat. 18) with all prayers, and he seems to imply that the kiss in some cases had become promiscuous; thus (Ad Uxor. 2:4) Quis in carcerem ad osculanda vincula martyris reptare patietur? Jam vero alicui fratrum ad osculum convenire? and (De virg. vel. 14) dum inter amplexus et oscula assidua concalescit. But it is not clear that these passages refer to the liturgical kiss. Express prohibition of the sexes kissing one another in public worship is found in the Apostolic Constitutions (2:57, 8:11). In the East, the kiss seems to have taken place before the consecration of the bread and wine; in the West, after it. Cyril of Jerusalem says of it; “Think not that this kiss ranks with those given in public by common friends. It is not such; this kiss blends souls one with another, and solicits for them entire forgiveness. Therefore this kiss is the sign that our souls are mingled together and have banished all remembrance of wrong (Matthew 5:23). The kiss therefore is reconciliation, and for this reason is holy” (Catech. xxiii. 3). The substitution of a ‘pax-bred’ (pax-board), which was kissed first by the clergy and then passed round to the congregation, is said to have been introduced in England by Archbishop Walter of York in 1250 and to have spread to other Churches. Disputes about precedence caused the congregational use of these tablets to be abandoned. The British Museum possesses richly ornamented examples of them. In the Greek Church the ‘holy kiss’ seems to be represented by the priest’s kissing ‘the holy things’ (paten, chalice, and table) and by the deacon’s kissing his orarion, where the figure of the cross is (J. N. W. B. Robertson, The Divine Liturgies, pp. 290-292).


While ἁγίῳ has special point, being added in order to distinguish this kiss from the kisses of ordinary affection or respect, no special meaning is to be found in of οἰ ἅγιοι, as if they were to be distinguished from other believers who were not ἅγιοι. It has the usual meaning of ‘Christians,’ those who by baptism had been ‘consecrated’ to the service of God. Cf. 1:1, 8:4, 9:1, 12; etc. The πάντες comes last with emphasis; but Theodoret exaggerates its meaning when he suggests that St Paul is sending a salutation from the whole of Christendom. All the converts in Macedonia who knew that the Apostle was sending a letter to Corinth wished him to include a kind message from themselves. No salutations to individuals are needed, because St Paul is so soon coming himself.

RV. and AV follow earlier English Versions in taking�v. 13, making the benediction which follows it to be v. 14. Gregory (Prolegomena, pp. 173 ff.) has collected a number of instances in which editions differ as to the divisions between verses.

13. Ἡ χάρις τοῦ κυρίου Ἰησοῦ. The conjectures that this benediction, which is the fullest in wording and in meaning of all the benedictions in the Pauline Epistles, was written by the Apostle with his own hand (Hoffmann), and was already a formula current in the Churches which he had founded (Lietzmann), are interesting rather than probable. If the latter were correct, we should expect to find the same formula used in the benedictions at the close of later Epistles; whereas this triple form is unique. Evidently the simple form was the one which was usual with the Apostle himself. There are slight variations in wording, as to the insertion or omission of ἡμῶν, of Χριστοῦ (as by B here), of πάντων, and of τοῦ πνεύματος before ὑμῶν, but it is only the ‘Grace of the Lord Jesus’ that is mentioned. In no other benediction are ἡ�1 Thessalonians 5:28; 2 Thessalonians 3:18; Galatians 6:18; 1 Corinthians 16:23) and later (Philippians 4:23; Philemon 1:25) letters, and then for some reason made the benediction more full. The reason may have been either a wish to show that the severe passages which he has just dictated do not mean any abatement in his affection or in his desire for their spiritual advancement, or the thought that a community in which there had been so much party-spirit and contention required an abundant outpouring of the love of God and of the fellowship of the Holy Spirit. This is a more probable explanation of the order of the Divine Names than the suggestion that it is through the grace of Christ that we come to the love of God (Bengel).* From different points of view either may be placed first. ‘No man can come to Me, except the Father which sent Me draw him’ (John 6:44); and ‘No one cometh unto the Father but by Me’ (John 14:6). The shortest forms of benediction are found in Colossians 4:18; 1 Timothy 6:21; 2 Timothy 4:22; Titus 3:15. The only one which comes near to this in fulness is Ephesians 6:23, Ephesians 6:24, but in that there is no mention of the Holy Spirit. Ἡ χάρις is everywhere followed by μετά: it is the Pauline amplification of the ordinary conclusion of letters, ἔρρωσο or ἔρρωσθε, ἐρρῶσθαί σε εὔχομαι or ἐρρῶσθαι ὑμᾶς εὔχομαι. Acts 15:29 we have Ἔρρωσθο, but Acts 23:30 must not be quoted for Ἔρρωσο, which is an interpolation. From 2 Thessalonians 3:17 we learn that this χάρις was σημεῖον ἐν πάσῃ ἐπιστολῇ, and it is probable that he usually, if not invariably, wrote it with his own hand. See on 1 Cor. 6:21, 23.


On the whole, it is safest to regard all three genitives as subjective; the grace which comes from the Lord Jesus Christ, the love which God inspires in the hearts of His children (cf. v. 11), the sense of membership which the Holy Spirit imparts to those who are united in one Body. But in either the second or the third case the genitive may be objective; love towards God, communion with the Spirit. “No exegetical skill,” as Lietzmann remarks, can give us certainty as to the exact meaning of ἡ κοινωνία τοῦ ἁγίον πνεύματος. See Bousset, ad loc.

μετὰ πάντων ὑμῶν. No one is excluded. He has had to say stern and sharp things to some of them; but to every one of them, even to those who have been his bitterest opponents, he sends his blessing. The πἀντων is exceptional in these benediction; cf. 2 Thessalonians 3:18. See Stanley, ad loc.


This verse “suggests beyond a doubt that beneath the religious life of the Apostolic age there lay a profound, though as yet unformulated faith in the tripersonality of God” (Swete, The Holy Spirit in the N.T. p. 198); in other words, “that St Paul and the Church of his day thought of the Supreme Source of spiritual blessing as not single but threefold—threefold in essence, and not only in a manner of speech” (Sanday in Hastings, DB. 2. p. 213). It is egregium de ss. Trinitate testimonium (Bengel), for it reveals the background of the Apostle’s thought, and shows that he was able to expect that language of this kind would be understood in so young a Church as that of Corinth. In 1 Corinthians 12:4-6 we have similar evidence of a sense of the threefold nature of the Source of all good; ‘the same Spirit … the same Lord … the same God.’ But it is all undogmatic and undeveloped. Forty years later Clement of Rome (Cor. 46:3, 58:2) is more definite; “one God and one Christ and one Spirit of grace”; and “as God liveth, and the Lord Jesus Christ liveth, and the Holy Spirit.” In both places he has the usual order, whereas St Paul has it in neither. Ephesians 4:4-6 ought not to be quoted as exactly parallel, the meaning of πνεῦμα being different. The Apostle frequently distinguishes between Jesus Christ as Κύριος and the Father as Θεός (1:3, 11:31; 1 Thessalonians 1:1; 2 Thessalonians 1:1, 2 Thessalonians 1:2, 2 Thessalonians 1:12, 2 Thessalonians 1:2:16, etc.). That he was acquainted with the tradition respecting the baptismal formula preserved in Matthew 28:19 cannot be inferred from this verse. Indeed, if he had been acquainted with it, we might here have had a nearer approach to the formula. Cf. Ephesians 2:18, Ephesians 2:3:Ephesians 2:14-17; Hebrews 6:4-6; 1 John 3:23. 1 John 3:24, 1 John 3:4:2; Revelation 1:4, Revelation 1:5; Jude 1:20, Jude 1:21; and see Plummer, S. Matthew, pp. 432 ff. The triple benediction in Numbers 4:24-26 may be compared; ‘Jehovah bless thee, and guard thee; Jehovah cause His face to shine upon thee, and show thee favour; Jehovah lift up His face towards thee, and appoint thee welfare.’ But there it is only the gifts that are distinguished, the Giver being the same throughout. See Gray, ad loc.


B omits Χριστοῦ, but it may be retained. א* A B C F G, 17 f g, etc., omit Ἀμήν, which here, as in most other places, is a liturgical addition at the end of the Epistles.


The hypothesis that the last portion of one letter has been accidentally joined to the first portion of another letter is supported by the fact that this very thing has happened in the case of other documents belonging to primitive Christian literature. The true text of the Epistle to Diognetus ends abruptly at the tenth chapter. “The two remaining chapters belong to some different work, which has been accidentally attached to it, just as in most of the extant MSS. the latter part of the Epistle of Polycarp is attached to the former part of the Epistle of Barnabas, so as to form in appearance one work” (Lightfoot, The Apostolic Fathers, p. 488). These MSS. “are nine in number, and all belong to the same family, as appears from the fact that the Epistle of Polycarp runs on continuously into the Epistle of Barnabas without any break, the mutilated ending of Polycarp, § 9,�ibid. pp. 166 f.). See also Lightfoot, S. Clement of Rome, i. p. 5.


The subscription, πρὸς Κορινθίους δευτέρα ἐγράφη�

* Cf. Plato, Phaedo, 63 E., δὶς καὶ τρὶς πίνειν..

“When he arrives, he will proceed at once to hold a judicial investigation, and will carry it through with legal stringency” (Denney).

As Erasmus puts it, quisquis delatus fuerit, is duorum out trium hominum testimonio vel absolvetur vel damnabitur. Cf. “Judge not alone, for none may judge alone save One” (Pirqe Aboth, iv. 12).

* If this threat is referred to in 1:23, then this passage must have been written before that. See Rendall, p. 39.

אԠא (Fourth century). Codex Sinaiticus; now at Petrograd, the only uncial MS. containing the whole N.T.

A (Fifth century). Codex Alexandrinus, now in the British Museum. All of 2 Corinthians from ἐπίστευσα 4:13 to ἐξ ἐμοῦ 12:6 is wanting.

B B (Fourth century). Codex Vaticanus.

D D (Sixth century). Codex Claromontanus; now at Paris. A Graeco-Latin MS. The Latin (d) is akin to the Old Latin. Many subsequent hands (sixth to ninth centuries) have corrected the MS.

* information respecting the commentator is to be found in the volume on the First Epistle, pp. lxvi f.

G G (Late ninth century). Codex Boernerianus; at Dresden. Interlined with the Latin (in minluscules). The Greek text is almost the same as that of F, but the Latin (g) shows Old Latin elements.

E E (Ninth century). At Petrograd. A copy of D, and unimportant

K K (Ninth century). Codex Mosquensis; now at Moscow.

L L (Ninth century). Codex Angelicus; now in the Angelica Library at Rome.

P P (Ninth century). Codex Porfirianus Chiovensis, formerly possessed by Bishop Porfiri of Kiev, and now at Petrograd.

f d The Latin companion of F

17 17. (Evan. 33, Act_13. Ninth century). Now at paris. “The queen of the cursives” and the best for the Pauline Epistles; more than any other it preserves Pre-Syrian readings and agrees with B D L.

d d The Latin companion of D

e d The Latin companion of E

g d The Latin companion of G

F F (Late ninth century). Codex Augiensis (from Reichenau); now at Trinity College, Cambridge.

* There is a similar change from sternness to gentleness between 2 Thessalonians 3:10-15 and 16-18.

* “It is through the grace of Jesus (cf. 8:9) that Paul has learned of the love of God, and therefore the name of Jesus is significantly put first.” (McFadyen). Cf. Ephesians 2:18, which gives some support to this.

C C (Fifth century). Codex Ephraemi, a Palimpsest; now at Paris, very defective. Of 2 Corinthians all from 10:8 onwards is wanting.

Bibliographical Information
Driver, S.A., Plummer, A.A., Briggs, C.A. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 13". International Critical Commentary NT. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/icc/2-corinthians-13.html. 1896-1924.
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