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Bible Commentaries
2 Corinthians 2

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Verses 1-99

2:1. Quisquis fuerit capitum divisor, fecit hic ineptam sectionem, says Calvin with justice. The connexion with what goes before is very close. The Apostle is continuing his answer to the charge of levity. He had changed his plans in order to spare them. Having stated what he did not mean when he spoke of sparing them (1:24), he now explains what that expression does mean.

ἔκρινα δὲ ἐμαυτῷ τοῦτο. It is not easy to decide whether δέ or γάρ is the right reading. External evidence seems to be somewhat in favour of δέ, but γάρ is more likely to have been changed to δέ than vice versa, and γάρ makes a good connexion; ‘It was to spare you that I gave up the idea of another visit to Corinth, for I determined this for myself.’ But another γάρ immediately after τῇ γὰρ πίστει ἐστήκατε is unpleasing and somewhat unlikely, and δέ makes quite a natural connexion, whether one renders it by ‘and’ or ‘but.’ ‘It was to spare you, and as regards myself, etc.’ For ἔκρινα, see on 1 Corinthians 2:2 and but 7:37; in the latter passage we have, as here, τοῦτο pointing forward to what is coming. The verb at once excludes the idea of levity or caprice; he thought the matter over and came to a definite conclusion; cf. v. 14; also Romans 14:13, where we have exactly the same construction as here, κρίνειν with an anticipatory τοῦτο, followed by τὸ μή with the infinite;�


τὸ μὴ πάλιν ἐν λύπῃ πρὸς ὑμᾶς ἐλθεῖν. There is little doubt that this is the right order of the words; see below. The translation of them is disputed. Those who hold that 12:14 and 13:1 compel us to believe that St Paul had already paid two visits to Corinth, translate, ‘Not again in sorrow to come to you.’ ‘Again in sorrow’ is to be taken together and is emphatic by position. He has had to come once in sorrow; and if he visited them on his way to Macedonia, he would have again to come in sorrow. This he decided not to do. The distressing visit cannot refer to the long stay during which he converted them; therefore there must have been a second visit, which was probably short. See Introduction; also G. H. Rendall, p. 57. Among recent writers, “Is it not plain,” says K. Lake, “that this passage (2:1-11) implies a recent visit which had ended so unpleasantly that St Paul had determined not to come back if he was likely to undergo similar experiences?” (Earlier Epp. p. 150).

On the other hand, those who think that the silence of Acts and the difficulty of fixing a time for this second visit are fatal to the supposition that it took place, translate thus, ‘Not to come to you again (and this time) in sorrow,’ or, ‘Not at my second coming to come to you in sorrow.’ He had paid them one very happy visit, and he would not revisit them in circumstances which must make the second visit a sad one. There is no need to determine whether λύπη means the sorrow which the Apostle must cause or that which he must feel: the context shows that he is thinking of both.

The AV has ‘heaviness’ for λύπη here, with ‘sorrow’ in v. 3, 2:7, 7:10; Philippians 2:27, etc.; and ‘sorrow’ is used to translate other Greek words. Even the R. V. uses ‘sorrow’ for both λύπη (often) and ὀδύνη, which in Romans 9:2 it renders ‘pain.’


B 17, 37, Syr-Hark. Copt. support γάρ: D*, Aeth. support τε: almost all others support δέ. T.R. with a few cursives reads πάλιν ἐλθεῖν ἐν λύπῃ. Nearly all authorities have πάλιν ἐν λύπῃ πρὸς ὑμᾶς ἐλθεῖν, but D E G, Syr. Pesh. have π. ἐν λ. ἐμθεῖν πρὸς ὑμᾶς. Copt. omits πάλιν and has ἐλθεῖν πρὸς ὑμᾶς ἐν λύπῃ.

2. εἰ γὰρ ἐγὼ λυπῶ ὑμᾶς κ.τ.λ. ‘For if I (with emphasis) make you sorrowful, who then is he that maketh me glad, but he that is made sorrowful by me.’ ‘Sorry’ and ‘sorrowful’ (6:10) are not synonymous, and the latter is what is meant here: see on v. 5. The καί makes the τίς emphatic and thus adds force to the question, ‘Why, who is there to make me glad?’ Ja wo ist denn dann noch einer, der mich erfreute So Bachmann. The answer to this question is ‘No one, for the only people who can cheer me have been made sad by me.’ The καί accepts the previous statement, and the question shows what a paradox it involves; cf. v. 16; Mark 10:26; John 9:36. See Winer, p. 545; Blass, § 77. 6. The singular ὁ εὐφραίνων, ὁ λυπούμενος, does not allude to any individual. The rhetorical τίς is necessarily singular, and thus the community is spoken of as an individual. The point is delicately put. ‘You Corinthians are my fount of joy; how could I be the one to wish to trouble with sorrow the source whence I draw my own gladness?’ But ὁ λυπούμενος does not refer to the penitent rebel who has been pained by the process of conversion; and ad hoc vos contristo ut gaudeam de vobis (Pseudo-Primasius) is certainly not the meaning of the verse. Ambrosiaster is far better; ideo noluit ire, ne forte corripiens paucos multos contristaret, ipse etiam contristatus; compatiuntur enim omnia membra unius moerori.


καὶ τίς without ἐστιν (א A B C, Copt.); other authorities insert. It is probably not original.

3. ἕγραψα τοῦτο αὐτό. This may be accepted as the right reading (see below), but its meaning is not certain, for both ἔγραψα and τοῦτο αὐτό may be understood in more ways than one.

Is ἔγραψα a simple aorist referring to a previous letter? Or is it an epistolary aorist referring to the present letter? In other words, ought it to be translated ‘I wrote’ or ‘I am writing’? It is not quite certain that there is anywhere in N.T. an instance of ἔγραψα as an epistolary aorist meaning ‘I am writing,’ although there are several cases which may be such. It is not such in 7:12, or 1 Corinthians 5:9, or 3 John 1:9: in all three cases ἔγραψα refers to a previous letter. It may be an epistolary aorist in 1 Corinthians 9:15 (see note there), but more probably it refers to an earlier part of the letter (see on 1 John 2:21, 1 John 2:26); and this is clearly the meaning of προέγραψα in Ephesians 3:3. See Lightfoot on Galatians 6:11, where ἔγραψα may mark the place where St Paul ceased to dictate and began to write himself; also on Philemon 1:19, where ἔγραψα seems to show that he wrote the whole letter with his own hand. Ἐγράψαμεν near the opening of the Martyrdom of Polycarp is a clear instance, and there are instances in papyri. There is no doubt that ἔπεμψα is used in the sense of ‘I am sending’ in 8:18, 9:3; Philippians 2:28; Philemon 1:12; and there is an interesting example in the papyrus letter quoted above (introd. to 1:3) from Apion to his father; ἔπεμψά σοι τὸ εἰκόνιν μου διὰ Εὐκτήμονος, “I am sending you by Euctemon the little portrait of me.”* Other examples might be quoted.


What is stated here and what is stated in 7:8-12 show that ἔγραψα does not mean ‘I am writing,’ in reference to this part of 2 Cor.; it means ‘I wrote,’ in reference to some earlier letter. Like ἔκρινα in v. 1, ἔγραψα refers to what took place in the past; and it is possible that both aorists refer to the same period in the past. In that case the meaning would be that, when he decided not to come to Corinth. he sent a letter instead of coming. That is thoroughly intelligible and natural, and we may regard as certain that ἔγραψα does not refers to 2 Cor. 1-9. It is equally certain that it does not refer to 1 Cor. The language of vv. 3, 4 and of 7:8-12 has to be explained in an unnatural manner, or indeed has to be explained away (see below), in order to make it fit 1 Cor.

The meaning of τοῦτο αὐτό may be ‘for this very reason.’ That rendering is linguistically possible; see on 2 Peter 1:5; Winer, p. 178; Blass, § 49. But elsewhere (v. 5; Romans 9:17, Romans 9:13:6.; Colossians 4:8) St Paul writes εἰς αὐτὸ τοῦτο to express this; and in v. 9; 1 Thessalonians 3:3; 1 Timothy 4:10 we have εἰς τοῦτο with a similar meaning. Nowhere else does St Paul use τοῦτο αὐτό or αὐτὸ τοῦτο, without εἰς, in the sense of ‘for this reason,’ and the probability is that it is not used in that sense here. ‘This very thing’ is the simpler and more probable rendering; and what precedes shows what ‘this very thing’ was,—viz. that to spare them he had given up the idea of coming, because he did not wish to pay a (second) painful visit, and was dealing with them by letter instead of coming. It is quite possible that in these verses he is quoting his earlier letter, just as in 1 Cor. he sometimes quotes the Corinthians’ letter; but we cannot detect the quotations with any certainty. We may, however, feel sure that there was not only a letter from St Paul to Corinth before 1 Cor. (see on 1 Corinthians 5:9), but also a letter between 1 Cor. and 2 Cor.†


That 2 Cor. 10-13 is part of the latter letter is a theory which here finds further confirmation (see on 1:23). In 13:10 he says, ‘For this cause when absent I write these things, that when present I may not deal sharply.’ Here, with apparent reference to those very words, he says, ‘I wrote this very thing that I might not by coming have sorrow.’ It is natural that what he called ‘dealing sharply’ when they were in revolt, he should call ‘having sorrow’ now that they have submitted.

ἵνα μὴ ἐλθὼν λύπην σχῶ. ‘In order that I might not by coming have sorrow.’ He does not say ἵνα ἐλθὼν μὴ λ. σχῶ, ‘that when I came I might not have sorrow.’ AV and RV. rather imply the latter reading.

ἀφʼ ὦν ἔδει με χαίρειν. ‘From the hands of those from whom I ought to have been rejoicing,’ if he had come. They were his spiritual children who ought to be making him happy by following his wishes and example (see on 1 Corinthians 4:16).

πεποιθὼς ἐπὶ πάντας ὑμᾶς. ‘Because I had reposed trust on you all.’ Even when they were rebels he was confident that there was real sympathy with him, and that they would wish to please him. Confidens vos omnes intelligere, quia tunc verum gaudium habitis, si ego gaudeo (Pseudo-Primasius). In the fulness of his heart he expresses what he hopes rather than what he knows; μέγα τι οἰκονομῶν (Chrys.). For the construction cf. οἱ πεποιθότες ἐπὶ Κύριον (Psalms 125:1); also 2 Thessalonians 3:4. Contrast 1:9, 10:7; Philemon 1:21, where we have the more classical dative.

ἔγραψα without ὑμῖν (א A B C O P 17, Am. Copt., Ambst.): other authorities insert. C O, Chrys. have αὐτὸ τοῦτο: A, Copt. Arm. omit αὐτό: other authorities have τοῦτο αὐτό, which D E F G, Latt. Goth., Aeth. place before ἔγραψα D F, Latt. insert ἐπὶ λύπην after λύπην. σχῶ (א* A B O P, Chrys.) rather than ἔχω (א3 C D E F G K L); cf. 1:15; Romans 1:13; Philippians 2:27.


4. ἐκ γὰρ πολλῆς θλίψεως … διὰ πολλῶν δακρύων. These strong words, expressive of deep emotion and intense distress, are quite in place, if they refer to a letter of which 10-13. formed a chief part. That passionate outburst of feeling might well have been written in ‘deep affliction and anguish of heart amid a flood of tears.’ But, as a description of the state of his mind when he wrote 1 Cor., the language is extravagant.* It might apply to the short section about the incestuous person, but that is only a fragment of the Epistle; and nowhere in the range of his extant letters can we find any considerable portion to which this statement would so fitly apply as to 10-13.

It is interesting and instructive to compare the Apostle’s description of his own condition during the writing of this vindication of his own authority with J. H. Newman’s statements respecting himself, while he was writing the marvellous Apologia pro Vita sua in the spring of 1864. He wrote to Sir F. Rogers on April 22; “During the writing and reading of my Part 3 I could not get from beginning to end for crying.” He wrote to Mr. Hope-Scott on May 2; “I have been writing without interruption of Sundays five weeks. I have been constantly in tears, and constantly crying out with distress.”

The Apostle’s statement explains (γάρ) how it came about that one whose function it was to be a ‘helper of their joy’ (1:24) should write a letter which was sure to cause great sorrow. That incongruity was only too keenly felt by the writer, and it caused him intense distress. Yet the object of the letter was not to spare himself and inflict pain on them, but to prove the reality of his affection. He had had more than enough of λύπη.

The change from ἐκ to διά has significance. It was out of a condition of affliction that the letter was written, and it passed through a flood of tears. We should more naturally say ‘amid many tears.’ There is a similar change from ἐκ to διά in Romans 2:27: for διά of “attendant circumstances,” cf. Romans 4:2, Romans 8:25, Romans 16:20. Both πολλῆς and καρδίας may be taken with both substantives; ‘out of much affliction of heart and much anguish of heart.’ In class. Grk. συνοχή is nearly always literal, of actual contraction, junction or check. It occurs Luke 21:25 and nowhere else in N.T. In LXX it occurs Judges 2:3; Job 30:3; Jeremiah 52:5; Micah 5:1 (4:14), with a variety of meanings. Jerome’s carelessness in revision is seen again in his rendering of the word. In Luke 23:25 he has pressura for both�

In his speech to the Ephesian elders at Miletus, St Paul twice mentions his frequent tears (Acts 20:19, Acts 20:31). One may call it softness, as Calvin remarks, but it is more worthy of a hero than illa ferrea durities Stoicorum would have been. The Apostle was no Stoic, and for him the suppression of all emotion was no road to perfection. The sympathy which he felt he showed, with utter disregard for Stoical�

ἀλλὰ τὴν�Galatians 2:10). He could have spared himself the pain of writing such a letter; he could have come at once and used severity, without giving them time to return to their obedience: but his love for them would not allow him to do either. As Chrys. points out, the run of the sentence requires ‘not that you should be made sorrowful, but that you should be induced to repent.’ Instead of this he substitutes ‘that you should know the exceptional love which I have for you.’ It was affection, not cold or cruel severity which made him write. He bears ‘Corinth’ written on his heart; 1:12, 3:2; 12:15; 1 Corinthians 4:15, 1 Corinthians 9:2: καταγλυκαίνει τὸν λόγον βουλόμενος ἐπισπάσασθαι αὐτούς (Theophyl.). That�


2:5-17. The Treatment of the Great Offender and the Result of the Severe Letter

The offender ought now to be freely forgiven. And for the intense relief caused by the report of you brought by Titus I thank God who does not allow ministers that work in sincerity to fail.

5As regards him who has been the cause of the sorrow, it is not so much to me that he has caused it (I do not wish to be considered at all) as to all of you; and perhaps not to all of you, for there may be exceptions, and I do not wish to be hard upon any one. 6I think, therefore, that the punishment which was inflicted by the majority is sufficient in the circumstances, and those who thought it inadequate need not insist upon anything more; 7on the contrary, you may now turn round and forgive and encourage him. 8If you fail to do this, a person in his circumstances may sink down in despair in the excess of his grief. I therefore implore you to leave him no longer in suspense, but at once, by some formal act, put into execution, not any sentence of further punishment, but the renewal of your love for him. 9This request that you should forgive him is not at all inconsistent with the letter which I sent instead of coming, for I wrote that letter, not so much in order to be severe on him, as to have a sure test whether in all respects you are prepared to obey me. 10You have proved your loyalty by punishing where punishment was due; but now, if you decide to forgive, you may rest assured that I agree with that decision; for—and this is one more point—if there has been anything for me to forgive, it is for your sakes that I have forgiven it, not thoughtlessly, but as in the presence of Christ. 11Satan is always on the watch to get an advantage over us. He did get an advantage when he caused this member of our body to sin so grievously. Are we to let him have another advantage—over a sinner that has repented?

12My disturbing anxiety about you is now removed; but it was so intense that, although, when I came to Troas to preach the Gospel, God gave me openings there which were very favourable, 18yet I could not settle to any fruitful work, because Titus, who was to bring me news of you, was not to be found there. In my eagerness to learn what success he had had among you I said good-bye to Troas and went on to Macedonia to meet him the sooner. 14But, God be thanked, all has turned out for the best. God, as always, led us along in His triumphal train with Christ, using us as His instruments to diffuse the sweet odour of His Gospel in every place. 15For it is of the fragrance of Christ that we ourselves are a sweet savour to God among both those who are in the way to deliverance and those who are in the way to destruction, 16to the one being a savour exhaled from death and breathing death, to the other a savour exhaled from life and breathing life. It is an awful charge, and what ministers are competent to undertake it? 17Some are not, but by God’s grace we are. For, unlike most teachers, we are not men who for their own ends corrupt God’s message. No; with sincerity in our hearts, nay with God in our hearts, and with His eye upon us, as befits those who are members of Christ, we deliver our message.

5-11. This paragraph about the great offender is not really a digression (Meyer), and the fact that we should have a good sequence of thought if it were omitted does not prove it to be a digression. It is part, and not on unimportant part, of St Paul’s vindication of himself. The Corinthians’ chief grievance was his sending them a severe letter instead of coming to them for the long and happy visit indicated in 1 Corinthians 16:5-7. But there was also the treatment of the ringleader against Apostolic authority. The majority censured him in a way which some thought inadequate. The Apostle assures them that the action of the Church in condemning the offender satisfies the requirements, all the more so as the person condemned is very penitent. He assures them that he is more than ready to join in their formal restoration of the man to favour; and there is now no bar to his coming.

We are ignorant as to the exact nature of the penalty which was inflicted by the majority, but apparently it was not that which St Paul was believed to require. Possibly it was that suggested in 1 Corinthians 5:11, τῷ τοιούτῳ μηδὲ συνεσθίειν, as also in 2 Thessalonians 3:14, μὴ συναναμίγνυσθαι αὐτῷ, ἵνα ἐντραπῇ, where we have the important addition, καὶ μὴ ὡς ἐχθρὸν ἡγεῖσθε,�

We are ignorant also as to who this offender was and as to what was the exact nature of his offence. But “it should no longer require to be proved that this offender is not the incestuous person of 1 Corinthians 5:1, but some one who had wronged Paul himself” (Moffatt, Int. to the Literature of the N.T., p. 122). This theory is still advocated by Zahn (1909), McFadyen (1911), and others, and therefore it is necessary to point out once more how untenable it is. Tertullian’s vigorous argument almost suffices without any others (De Pudic. 13). After quoting this passage (5-11) he asks whether the Apostle could possibly have written in this effusively indulgent way about a man who had been guilty of fornication aggravated by incest, and this without one word of severity about the past or warning about the future.* We must remember that, if the offender here is the incestuous person of 1 Corinthians 5:1, then the incest was of a specially monstrous character, for the sinful union was contracted in the lifetime of the man’s father. This passage and 7:12 refer to the same case, and there, if ὁ�


If ὁ�1Co_5. we have also a τις (v. 1) and a τοιοῦτος (v. 5) and Σατανᾶς (v. 5), and that therefore this passage refers to the same case as that, is very shallow. In every sinful πρᾶγμα (7:11) there is a τις and a τοιοῦτος, with Satan at work also. The use of τοιοῦτος in the two places is different. In the other case St Paul refuses to stain his letter with the name of such a transgressor, and perhaps intimates that any one who transgresses in a like manner will receive the like punishment. In this case, he refrains from naming him out of consideration for the offender’s feelings, whose case he states hypothetically; ‘if there is such a person’: in v. 10, 7:14, 10:7 we have a similar use of εἰ. So also there is difference in the way in which Satan is introduced in each case. There he was made the instrument of chastisement; here he is to be guarded against as a crafty enemy.


ἀλλὰ�

The AV rendering, ‘He hath not grieved me but in part: that I may not overcharge you all,’ follows Tertullian, Vulgate, Luther and others, but it cannot stand, for�Mark 10:40), and St Paul is not urging that he has been distressed even ‘in part’; he is dismissing the personal affront altogether. It is not quite certain whether�

In Biblical Greek, ἐπιβαρεῖν is peculiar to Paul, who always uses it in a metaphorical sense (1 Thessalonians 2:9; 2 Thessalonians 3:8) and with the acc. Appian has it several times, always with the dat. (examples in Wetstein); and it is found in inscriptions. Cf. καταβαρεῖν, 12:16. On the whole verse see Stanley and Alford.

6. ἱκανὸν τῷ τοιούτῳ ἡ ἐπιτιμία αὕτη. ‘A sufficient thing for such a person is this punishment.’ We may understand ἔστω, but ἐστιν is more probable. This substantival use of the neuter adjective accompanied by a feminine substantive is found elsewhere;�Matthew 6:34);�Acts 12:3); ἡ ψυχὴ πλεῖόν ἐστιν τῆς τροφῆς (Luke 12:23). Blass, § 31. 2, quotes also ἱκανόν ἐστιν (Luke 22:38), but the meaning there is, ‘Enough of this subject,’ not, ‘two swords are a sufficient thing.’ There is perhaps a slight difference of meaning between ἱκανόν and ἱκανή. The latter would mean that the existing ἐπιτιμία need not be prolonged. The former means that no additional penalty need be imposed. But this cannot be insisted on. † The meaning here is that ‘the punishment is a sufficient thing.’ It is not said that it is adequate to the offence, but that it satisfies the requirements of the case. ‡ Apostolic authority has been defied, and the Church, acting through the majority, has censured the offender. Nothing further is necessary.

In Wisd. 3:10 we have οἱ δὲ�2 Thessalonians 1:9 St Paul has δίκη = ‘punishment,’ a word of somewhat similar history, passing from ‘customary rights,’ through ‘legal action’ to ‘penalty.’ ‘Punish’ and ‘punishment’ are freq. in O.T., but not so in N.T.

ἡ ὑπὸ τῶν πλειόνων. ‘Which was inflicted by the many’ (RV) or ‘by the majority,’ rather than ‘by many’ (AV). A similar correction should be made 4:15, 9:2; 1 Corinthians 10:5; Philippians 1:14; cf. 1 Corinthians 15:6. It may be lawful to translate οἰ πλείονες ‘many’ or even ‘several’ (Blass, § 44. 4), but in this and other places in N.T. ‘the many’ or ‘the majority’ is probably right. They are contrasted with a minority who did not concur in what was done by οἱ πλείονες, and it is often assumed that this minority opposed the infliction of the ἐπιτιμία as being excessive, or as being altogether undeserved. Those who hold this view remind us that there was an anti-Pauline party at Corinth which would be sure to refuse to punish a man whose only offence was that of having defied St Paul. But there is no hint that this minority had been patronizing a rebel. St Paul tells them that ‘contrariwise they should rather forgive’ the rebel, which implies that hitherto they had refused to forgive him. It is more likely that the minority were the Paul party (1 Corinthians 1:12, 1 Corinthians 1:13), who thought that one who defied the Apostle ought to be much more severely punished; and it is this minority whom he is specially addressing. Kennedy, Second and Third Corinthians, pp. 100 f.; Lake, Earlier Epistles, p. 171.

7. ὥστε τοὐναντίον μᾶλλον κ.τ.λ. ‘So that on the contrary you may rather forgive him fully and comfort him.’ The ἕστε gives the natural consequence of the view that the penalty which has been imposed satisfies the requirements. So far from imposing anything more, they may put an end to what has been imposed. He is not telling them what they must do; there is no δεῖν. He tactfully points out the logical consequence of admitting the ἱκανόν, and leaves them to act upon it. The μᾶλλον is probably genuine (see below), and it indicates that there were still some who felt that the punishment was insufficient. For χαρίσασθαι, which implies making the man a present of the remainder of the penalty, * and forgiving him absolutely, cf. 12:13; Luke 7:42, Luke 7:43; Colossians 2:13, Colossians 2:3:13; Ephesians 4:32.

μή πως τῇ περισσοτέρᾳ λύπῃ καταποθῇ ὁ τ. ‘Lest by any means such a one should be swallowed up by his overmuch sorrow.’ Neither here nor 9:4 nor 12:20 does the AV give the right force to μή πως: it does so 1 Corinthians 9:27; Galatians 2:2. Various conjectures are made as to what the Apostle feared might be the result; apostasy, reckless indulgence in sin, suicide. It is more important to notice that this implies that the man had already repented; he was no longer rebellious; and vera poenitentia est jam cessare a peccato (Herveius). Evidently, his grief was already great, and there was danger of his despairing of being restored to favour in Christian society. For καταπίνειν in the metaphorical sense cf. v. 4; 1 Corinthians 15:54; 1 Peter 5:8. It is freq. in LXX. The ‘swallowing,’ as Chrys. says, may be ὡς ἐπὶ θηρίου, ὡς ἐπὶ χειμῶνος, ὡς ἐπὶ κλύδωνος. In the Ep. of the Churches of Lugdunum and Vienna those who had apostatized are said to have been swallowed by the Beast, ἵνα�


H. C. Lea points out that in the Roman Catholic version of the N.T. there is a note appended to this text explaining that “the Apostle here granted an indulgence or pardon in the person and by the authority of Christ to the incestuous Corinthian whom he had put under penance, which pardon consisted in a releasing of part of the temporal punishment due to sin.” This, says Lea, is “a typical instance of the facility with which men read into Scripture whatever they desire to find there” (Hist. of Auricular Confession and Indulgences, iii. p. 5). *

A B, Syr-Pesh., Aug. omit μᾶλλον, which is found before ὑμᾶς in א C K L O P, Syr-Hark. Vulg. Copt. Arm., Chrys. Ambrst. and after ὑμᾶς in D E F G17, Goth., Thdrt. Tert.

8. διὸ παρακαλῶ ὑμᾶς. He does not invoke his Apostolic authority and command the forgiveness; as an equal he entreats them to grant it. The community had selected and enforced the penalty, whatever it may have been, and he leaves to them the removal of it. He respects the democratic feeling of the Corinthian Church, and he respects the spirit of the Lord’s commission to the whole Church. “It is a fact of the highest importance and clearly established by the documents, that the commission given on the evening of the first Easter Day—the ‘Great Commission’—was given to the Church and not to any class in the Church—to the whole Church and not to any part of it, primarily. ‘Receive ye the Holy Ghost; whosoever sins ye forgive, they are forgiven unto them; whosoever sins ye retain, they are retained’ (John 20:22 f.). The words are the Charter of the Christian Church, and not simply the Charter of the Christian Ministry” (Westcott, Ephesians, pp. 169 f.). On that first Easter evening, not all the Apostles were present, and others were present who were not Apostles. The commission, in the first instance, was to the community as a whole. The Apostle here makes his appeal to the whole community, and not to any class of officials, and he leaves the community free to act. The change of meaning from παρακάλεσαι, ‘to comfort’ (v. 7), to παρακαλῶ, ‘I beseech’ (v. 8), should be noted: see on 1:4.

παρακαλῶ ὑμᾶς κυρῶσαι εἰς αὐτὸν�Luke 14:18, where παραιτεῖσθαι comes as a surprise at the end; one would have expected just the opposite. At Corinth there were some who wished for a more severe punishment on the offender than censure and separation. The Apostle says, Ἑνώσατε τὸ μέλος τῷ σώματι, συνάψατε τῇ ποίμνῃ τὸ πρόβατον, θερμὴν αὐτῷ διάθεσιν δείξατε· προσήκει γὰρ ὑμᾶς μὴ μόνον τέμνοντι συνεργεῖν�Genesis 23:20). In papyri (Oxyrh. 513, 4) ἐκυρώθην οἰκίαν. Thuc. VIII. lxix. 1, ἡ ἐκκλησία κυρώσασα ταῦτα διελύθη.


9. εἰς τοῦτο γὰρ καὶ ἔγραψα. ‘For it was just for this that I also wrote’; the ‘just’ marks the emphasis on εἰς τοῦτο, which looks forward to ἵνα γνῶ. As in v. 3, ἔγραψα refers to the letter between 1 Cor. and 2 Cor., of which 2 Cor. 10-13 is probably a part. The καί marks the agreement of this letter with that, not of this letter with what he had said, or of this passage with the earlier part of this letter. And we must not translate as if we had καὶ γὰρ εἰς τοῦτο.

τὴν δοκιμὴν ὑμῶν. The proof of you, i.e. he wished to have them tested; ut cognoscam probationem vestram (Tert.), which is better than ut cognoscam experimentum vestrum (Vulg.). In 2:9, 8:2, 13:3, Vulg. has experimentum for δοκιμή, as also in Philippians 2:22; but in 9:13 and Romans 5:4 it has probatio. AV has ‘experience,’ ‘experiment,” ‘trial,’ and ‘proof,’ but without following Vulg. in its changes.

εἰ εἰς πάντα ὑπήκοοί ἐστε. ‘Whether in all respects ye are obedient,’ ‘whether to every call of duty you lend your ear.’ They were not to be obedient just so far as the claims made on them pleased them. The ἐστέ. ‘ implies that the proof was satisfactory; they are obedient in all points; cf. ἐστε ἄζυμοι (1 Corinthians 5:7). Here, as in 7:12, St Paul seems to be interpreting his original intention in writing the letter by the light of the actual results of the letter.


The reading ἧ for εἰ may possibly be right; * it refers to δοκιμήν, ‘the proof whereby ye are, etc.’ This would strengthen the ἐστέ in indicating that they are found to be perfectly obedient. St Paul does not say, and perhaps does not mean, that they are obedient to himself: rather, they are obedient to the principles of the Gospel.

Once more we have considerable confirmation of the theory that 10-13. is part of the severe letter to which allusion is made by ἔγραψα here and in v. 3. In 10:6 he says, ‘Being in readiness to avenge all disobedience when your obedience shall be fulfilled’; here he says, ‘For it was just for this that I also wrote, that I might know the proof of you, whether you are obedient in all things.’ As in v. 3 and 1:23, he here writes in the past tense of the same thing as that of which in 10-13. he writes in the present tense. It is quite natural that in the previous letter written in severity, he should speak of ‘avenging disobedience,’ and that in this letter of reconciliation he should omit all allusion to such a possibility. That within the compass of a dozen verses we should have three close parallels between 1.-9. and 10.-13., and all of the same character, make a case of considerable strength. And we shall find other facts pointing in the same direction.

A B 17 have ᾗ, other authorities εἰ Cf. Hebrews 6:14, where εἰ μήν has been corrupted to ἧ μήν.


10. ᾧ δέ τι χαρίζεσθε, κἀγώ. They had joined with him in condemning; he joins with them in forgiving. They had shown obedience in consenting to censure; let them now be sure of his consent if they desire to give love instead of blame. The Apostle is not promising always to follow their lead in exercising leniency: although the statement is general, it is manifestly limited to the particular case; and with regard to that he is not acting in the dark. He has the report of his official representative Titus to guide him, and that made it clear to him that generous treatment of the offender would do a great deal of good and little or no harm.

καὶ γὰρ ἐγὼ ὃ κεχάρισμαι. Here we have καὶ γάρ (contrast v. 9), introducing an additional reason, and ἐγώ is emphatic; ‘For also what I have forgiven,’ I on my side as distinct from you. AV is faulty in turning the perfects into aorists.

εἴ τι κεχάρισμαι. A gracious parenthesis; ‘if I have forgiven anything,’ i.e. ‘if I have had anything to forgive.’ He is not suggesting a doubt as to whether he has granted forgiveness, but he puts the fact of there being something for him to forgive as a mere hypothesis. The hypothetical statement is exactly parallel to εἴ τις λελύπηκεν: ‘if there is such person, he has received forgiveness so far as I am concerned.’ Some would translate, ‘what I have been forgiven, if I have been forgiven anything,’ which is grammatically possible, but it spoils the appeal, and is out of harmony with διʼ ὑμᾶς ἐν προσώπῳ Χρ. St Paul is not thinking of the Corinthians’ change of attitude towards himself, but of his own towards the offender and them. It is ‘for their sakes’ that he has so entirely blotted out the thought of the man’s offence. Their relation towards the offender has been a painful one, but it need not continue; let it be changed for a happy one.

ἐν προσώπῳ Χριστοῦ. ‘In the presence of Christ’; in facie Christi, or in conspectu Christi (Calv.); ὡς τοῦ Χριστοῦ ἐφορῶντος καὶ�Proverbs 8:30). This is more probable than ‘in the person of Christ’ (AV, RV); in persona Christi (Vulg.), an Christi Statt (Luth.), or ‘unto the glory of Christ’ (Chrys.). See on 1:11. But, however we may translate the expression, the purpose of it is to correct a possible misunderstanding of διʼ ὑμᾶς. Although it was for their sakes that he acted as he did, yet he remembered whose eye was upon him to approve or condemn his action.


κἀγώ (א* A B C2 D E O P) rather then καὶ ἐγώ (א3 C* F G K L), as in most places where such crasis is possible. ὅ κεχ. εἴ τι κεχ (א A B C F G O) rather than εἴ τι κεχ. ᾧ κεχ (D2 K L 17). Baljon suggests that εἴ τι κεχ is a gloss. It would be a very clever gloss,—subtly Pauline. As in the case of 1:6, 7, there is difference of opinion about the division of the verses. Some editors assign ἵνα μὴ … Σατανᾶ to v. 10.

11. ἵνα μὴ πλεονεκτηθῶμεν ὑπὸ τ. Σατ. ‘To prevent our being overreached by Satan.’ The man is penitent and is freeing himself from Satan; what a grievous error to aid Satan in getting control over him again! Chrys. remarks that the Apostle is quite right in speaking of the πλεονεξία of Satan, of his getting more than his due. That Satan should take man by sin is proper to him, but that he should do so through man’s repentance is too much, for repentance is our weapon, not his. Vulg. has at non circumveniamur a Satana, * which is not so good as ne fraudemur (Tert.), but better than ne possideamur (Aug. Ambrst.). The verse explains the διʼ ὑμᾶς. It was to the Corinthians’ advantage and the Apostle’s as well (his including himself in this gain is a delicate touch) that Satan should not be allowed to gain through a Christian’s penitence: debemus cavere ne remedium nostrum fiat ejus triumphus (Ambrose). Nowhere else in Bibl. Grk. is the passive of πλεονεκτεῖν found. In LXX the verb is rare; in N.T. both πλεονεκτεῖν and πλεονέκτης are peculiar to Paul. The ‘us’ or ‘we’ means the Church as a whole, not the Apostle.

οὐ γὰρ αὐτοῦ τὰ νοήματα�Philippians 4:7 intelligentias. Chrys. gives a variety of expressions to represent τὰ νοήματα, all of them pointing to the wiliness of the evil one; τὸ δολερόν, τὸ κακομήχανον, τὸ ποικίλον, τὸ ἐπὶ προσχήματι εὐλαβείας ἐπηρεαστικόν: and this thought is freq. in Paul (4:4, 11:14; 1 Corinthians 7:5; 2 Thessalonians 2:9). See on 3:14.

Of the Scriptural designations of the evil one, four are found in this Epistle; ‘Satan’ (here, 11:14, 12:7), ‘the serpent’ (11:3), ‘Beliar’ (6:15), ‘the god of this age’ (4:4). Elsewhere St Paul calls Satan ‘the tempter’ (1 Thessalonians 3:5), ‘the devil’ (Ephesians 4:6, etc.), ‘the evil one’ (Ephesians 6:16), ‘the prince of the power of the air’ (Ephesians 2:2). It is not necessary to dwell on the obvious fact that here and elsewhere he regards the evil power which opposes God and the well-being of man as a personal agent. Excepting 12:7, Σατανᾶς always has the article in the Pauline Epp. So also most frequently in the rest of the N.T. But, whether with or without the article, Σατανᾶς in N.T. is always a proper name which designates the great Adversary of God and man.


12, 13. From the λύπη caused by the great offender the Apostle returns to the θλίψις which was nearly fatal to him in Asia, from which the news brought by Titus enabled him to recover. But the joyous recollection of the recovery makes him omit to mention the news. This dropping a subject and taking it up again is very natural, especially in a man of strong feeling, who dictates his letters.

12. Ἐλθὼν δὲ εἰς τὴν Τρῳάδα. ‘Now’ (not ‘furthermore,’ AV) ‘when I came to Troas.’ The words might mean ‘to the Troad,’ the region between the Hellespont and Mount Ida, but a town must be meant. * St Paul would not tell Titus to meet him in a large district, and the city of Troas was a convenient landing-place from Macedonia. Its full name was Alexandria Troas, Αλεξάνδρεια ἡ Τρῳάς, Τρῳάς being an adjective to distinguish it from other places called Ἀλεξάνδρεια; and while in N.T. and Pliny it is called simply Troas, in Strabo it is called simply Alexandria. Its modern name is Eski Stambui or Eski Stamboul, Old Constantinople. It was one of the few Roman colonies in Asia Minor, and Suetonius says that there was a widely spread rumour that Julius Caesar meant to transfer the capital of the Empire to this colony. † A coast-road ran northwards from Ephesus through Adramyttium to Troas, and when St Paul left Ephesus (Acts 20:1) for Troas he probably followed it; but he may have gone by sea. Troas is a few miles south of Novum Ilium, which was on the site of the Homeric Troy. See Enc. Bib. iv. 5215.


εἰς τὸ εὐαγγέλιον τοῦ Χριστοῦ. ‘For,’ that is, ‘to preach the Gospel (that tells) of the Christ.’ This was his primary object. Such missionary work would take time, and during this time he expected that Titus would arrive with news as to the state of affairs at Corinth. If the report of Titus was encouraging, St Paul was conveniently placed for going on to Corinth through Macedonia.

θύρας μοι�1 Corinthians 16:9 and Lightfoot on Colossians 4:3 and 1 Thessalonians 1:9, where ὁποίαν εἴσοδον ἔσχομεν is used of an excellent opening for missionary work. It was hardly necessary to add ἐν Κυρίῳ after τοῦ Χριστοῦ, but he wishes to make it quite clear that he had come for the work of a Christian missionary, and that it was precisely in that sphere that he found a promising opportunity. This intensifies the significance of what follows. In spite of all this he found it impossible to remain and work.


εἱς τὸ εὐαγγέλιον with almost all authorities, except F G, Latt., which have διὰ τὸ εὐαγγέλιον, propter evengelium. D E here do not agree with d e, but have διὰ τοῦ εὐαγγελίου: see critical note on v. 17. For θύρας μοι�

Like νόημα, ἄνεσις is specially freq. in this letter (7:5, 8:13) and occurs elsewhere in N.T. only in 2 Thessalonians 1:7; Acts 24:23. Vulg. usually renders it requies, but ‘relaxation’ in the sense of loosening some kind of tension or restriction is its meaning rather than ‘rest.’ Being set free from θλίψις is the main idea in this letter, as in 2 Thess. In Ecclus. 15:20, 26:10, it means freeing from wholesome restraint, licence. So also in the Epistle of Barnabas 4:2; μὴ δῶμεν τῇ ἑαυτῶν ψυχῇ ἄνεσιν ὥστε ἔχειν αὐτὴν ἐξουσίαν μετὰ ἁμαρτωλῶν καὶ πονηρῶν συντρέχειν. With the dat. ‘for my spirit,’ comp. οὐχ εὑροῦσα ἡ περιστερὰ�Genesis 8:9).

τῷ μὴ εὑρεῖν με Τίτον τὸν�Galatians 2:3). But in N.T. Ἕλλην means no more than ‘Gentile,’ and we cannot be sure of the nationality of Titus. Nevertheless, his acceptability among the Corinthians, and his success in the delicate mission which St Paul entrusted to him, are evidence of his being by race a Greek. K. Lake, Earlier Epp. pp. 146 f., 275 f. Titus is mentioned nine times in 2 Cor. and is highly praised. In 1 Cor. he is not mentioned at all. The reason may be that he was the bearer of 1 Cor. Ramsay, Paul the Traveller, p. 284.

There is no parallel in N.T. to the causal dat. τῷ μὴ εὑρεῖν, ‘by reason of my not finding’; in 1 Thessalonians 3:3 the true reading is τὸ μηδένα σαίνεσθαι, not τῷ. But examples are found elsewhere; τῷ μὴ καὶ ταῦτα πανταχοῦ μηδʼ ἐν τοῖς δημοσίοις�

ἀποταξάμενος αὐτοῖς. The same words occur Mark 6:46, the only place in N.T. in which the verb occurs outside the writings of Paul and Luke, and where αὐτοῖς is as indefinite as here. In N.T. the mid. only is found, and its meaning is ‘to bid farewell to friends,’ in Mk. probably to the disciples, here obviously to the converts at Troas; cf. Luke 9:61, Luke 9:14:33; Acts 18:18, Acts 18:21. The word suggests that he left them with reluctance. In Josephus it is used of Esther’s fasting, τροφῇ καὶ ποτῷ καὶ ἡδέσιν�

ἐξῆλθον εἰς Μακεδονίαν. In Acts 16:10, Acts 20:1 we have ἐξελθεῖν εἰς τὴν Μακ., and in each case it is needless to ask whether ἐξελθεῖν refers to leaving the town or leaving the province. Both Asia and Macedonia were Roman provinces. See Index IV.


In these two graphic verses (12, 13), St Paul once more shows the Corinthians how erroneous it was to suppose that his not visiting them at the time proposed was due to levity or any want of care for them. For their sakes he abandoned a very promising field of missionary enterprise. He is so overwhelmed with thankfulness at the thought of the ultimate result, that, without going on with his narrative, he bursts out into a hymn of praise. We can imagine the surprise of his amanuensis, as the Apostle suddenly changed his line of thought and began to dictate the next four verses. See 7:5 f. for the narrative.

It is difficult to believe that the man who had just been freed from an agony of anxiety as to the effect of a severe letter to the Corinthians should forthwith write the severe reproaches and sarcasms contained in 10-13:10, and should send them to the Corinthians in the same letter in which he tells them of this agony of anxiety.

For τῷ μή (א3 A B C * G K) L P have τὸ μή and א* C2 have τοῦ μή, both of which may safely be disregarded, while D E 17 have ἐν τῷ μή, which Blass is inclined to adopt. Schmiedel rightly rejects the conjectures that vv. 12, 13 originally came after 1:22, or were written by Paul as a marginal note to 1:16. The conjectures are quite unnecessary.

14. Τῷ δὲ Θεῷ χάρις. St Paul generally writes χάρις τῷ Θεῷ (8:16, 9:15; Romans 6:17, Romans 7:25), but here, as in the similarly sudden transition to thanksgiving in 1 Corinthians 15:7, he puts τῷ Θεῷ first with great emphasis. The two thanksgivings should be compared. In each case we have a noble digression of irrepressible gratitude. And the gratitude here is evoked by the thought of the intense revulsion of feeling from anxiety to joy when he met Titus and heard that all was well in Corinth. To seek for any other explanation is unintelligent waste of time. The remembrance of the victory of God’s cause at Corinth leads him on to think of the triumph of the Gospel generally, and of the very subordinate but glorious share which Apostolic missionaries have in that triumph. He thinks of its progress as a magnificent procession moving onwards through the world. The victorious commander is God, and the Apostles are—not His subordinate generals, but His captives, whom He takes with Him and displays to all the world. St Paul thanks God, not for ‘always causing him to triumph’ (AV), but for ‘at all times leading him in triumph.’ The Apostles were among the first to be captured and made instruments of God’s glory. When a Roman imperator triumphed, clouds of incense arose all along the route; and in the triumph-train of the Gospel the incense of increased knowledge of God is ever ascending. The Apostles cause this increase of knowledge, and therefore they themselves are a fragrance to the glory of God, a fragrance that is life-giving to those that are on the road to salvation, but will prove deadly to those who are on the other road. The atmosphere of the Gospel is one which only those who are prepared to welcome it can breathe with safety and delight; to others it is a peril and a pain.


Some editors make vv. 14-17 a separate paragraph; but the connexion with vv. 12, 13 should not be broken.

τῷ πάντοτε θριαμβεύοντι ἡμᾶς. ‘Who at all times leadeth us in triumph’ is almost certainly right. It is true that some verbs in -ευω acquire a causative sense: μαθητεύω may mean ‘I make a disciple of’ (Matthew 28:19; Acts 14:21) as well as ‘I am a disciple’ (Matthew 27:57), and βασιλεύω may be ‘I make to be king’ (Isaiah 7:6) as well as ‘I am a king’ (Luke 19:14, Luke 19:27). But we do not know that θριαμβεύω ever means ‘I cause to triumph,’ although that meaning would make good sense here and is adopted by various interpreters; qui facit ut semper triumphemus (Beza), qui triumphare nos facit (Calvin). But in Colossians 2:15 θριαμβεύω has its usual meaning of ‘I lead in triumph,’ and that is likely to be its meaning here. Earlier writers have nos in triumpho circumduco. This is Thdrt.’s explanation; τῇδε κἀκεῖσε περιάγει δήλους ἡμᾶς πᾶσιν�1 Corinthians 4:9, where we have a similar metaphor, and the leading idea in both places is that of exhibiting, displaying to the world. As to the usual signification of θριαμβεύω one example may suffice; Cleopatra, captured by Caesar, says to the Manes of Mark Antony, whom she had recently buried, μηδʼ ἐν ἐμοὶ περιίδῃς θριαμβευόμενον σεαυτόν (Plut. Ant. 84). Wetstein gives other examples. See also Field, Notes on Translation of the N.T. p. 181, who, however, questions the allusion to a Roman triumph. The derivation of θρίαμβος, like that of εἰλικρινία (1:12), is a problem, but its meanings are well established. Originally a hymn sung in processions in honour of Bacchus, it was used as equivalent to the Roman triumphus, probably through similarity of sound and of association. Thus Polybius says that the Senate can add glory even to the successes of generals by bringing their achievements in tangible form before the eyes of the citizens in what are called ‘triumphs’ (6., 15:8).† Wetstein well sums up the meaning of the passage; “God leads us round as it were in triumph, so that we do not stay in one place or move on to another according to our own will, but as seems good to our all-wise Director. The man whom He vanquished at Damascus He leads in triumph, not at Rome, and just once, but through the whole world, as long as he lives.” See also McFadyen, ad loc., and also on the Pauline phrase ‘in Christ’ in Truth in Religion, pp. 242-259, from which much of the next note is taken.

ἐν τῷ Χριστῷ. Cf. ἐν Κυρίῳ in v. 12. The expressions, ἐν Χριστῷ, ἐν τῷ Χριστῷ, ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ, ἐν Ἰησοῦ Χριστῳ, ἐν τῷ Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ, ἐν Κυρίῳ Ἰησοῦ Χριστῷ, occur upwards of fifty times in N.T., and nearly all of them are found in the Pauline Epp. The exceptions are 1 Pet. v. 10, 14, of which 5:10 is doubtful, and both may be due to Pauline influence. Of the six forms of expression (which cover all four groups of the Pauline Epp.), the first three are very common, while the last three are rare, occurring only once or twice each. The differences in the forms of expression may not mean much, but the total amount may show channels of thought in which the Apostle’s mind habitually ran. ‘In Christ’ or ‘in Christ Jesus’ was a sphere in which his inner life ever moved. To us the phrase has a conventional sound; it is like a coin much defaced by frequent use, and it needs to be taken back to the mint in which it was fashioned, the mint of experience. St Paul had been persecuting the followers of Jesus as being the worshippers of a false and dead Messiah. Experience had confronted him with the same Jesus and had compelled him to recognize Him as the true Messiah, victorious over death, and able to make Himself known to living men. Further experience had proved that Jesus the Messiah was one in whom was revealed all that men could know about God, and that the way to learn the truth about God was to be united with His Christ. Henceforth St Paul thought of himself as ‘in Christ,’ and these words tell us of a man with a changed consciousness of life.* The chief element of change was a sense of freedom, freedom from the bondage of the Law and from the bondage of sin: but it was not the only element. ‘In Christ’ we have indeed a sphere of liberty, but we have also a sphere of work; for freedom is freedom to do something, and to be ‘in Christ’ is to be working in His service, as fellow-workers not only of Apostles (8:23), but of God Himself (1 Corinthians 3:9). To be working in this atmosphere of liberty is an experience which makes men ‘new creatures in Christ Jesus’ (v. 17), with new estimates of things, new aims and hopes, and new powers wherewith to attain and fulfil them.


Whether intended to do so or not, ἐν τῷ Χριστῷ at the end of this clause balances τῷ Θεῷ at the beginning of it. It is for being perpetually led in triumph ‘in Christ’ that the Apostle gives rapturous thanks to God. And the central word is πάντοτε, which is repeated in another form in ἐν παντὶ τὀπῳ. Neither in time nor in space is there any point at which this being led in triumph ceases.

τὴν ὀσμὴν τῆς γνώσεως αὐτοῦ. Sweet odours often reveal the presence of what cannot be seen; odor ideo, quia sentitur potius quam videtur (Pseudo-Primasius). God makes manifest through the labours of His ministers the fragrance which a knowledge of the Christ who reveals Him always brings. The genitive is probably one of apposition; the knowledge is the fragrance; cf. τὸν�

φανεροῦντι διʼ ἡμῶν ἐν παντὶ τόπῳ. The choice of the verb is determined by τῆς γνώσεως rather than by τὴν ὀσμήν.* As in 1:19 and 1 Corinthians 3:5, the Apostles are not independent agents, but instruments. Cf. the frequent διὰ τοῦ προφήτου. It is a mistake to refer διʼ ἡμῶν to St Paul alone. He is not claiming an exclusive revelation. Ἐν παντὶ τόπῳ ανδ πάντοτε show that there is no special reference to the crisis at Corinth. It is fanciful to find in ὀσμή any allusion to the anointing of priests, or in γανεροῦντι any suggestion of the opening of a box of unguents. The verb is very freq. in the Johannine and Pauline writings, and occurs nine times in this Epistle.

15. ὅτι Χριστοῦ εὐωδία ἐσμὲν τῷ Θεῷ. By way of explanation (ὅτι) the metaphor of the sweet savour is used in a different way to express the work of those who preach the Gospel. In spreading the fragrance of it they are themselves a fragrance to God. Here Χριστοῦ is emphatic, as τῷ Θεῷ is in v. 14, ‘For it is of Christ that we are a sweet odour to God.’ ‘Of Christ’ means that the fragrance comes from Him, for it is He whom the missionaries preach, and such preaching is pleasing to God. It is possible that τῷ Θεῷ is added because of the frequency of ὀσμὴ εὐωδίας Κυπίῳ or τῷ Κυρίῳ in LXX. Codex Mosquensis (K) omits τῷ Θεῷ, and J. Weiss regards it as an editorial insertion; but it has point. The preaching is always εὐωδία to God, but not always to men, to some of whom it breathes death.* It is worth noting that the sacrificial phrase ὀσμὴ εὐωδίας, so frequent in LXX, is not used here, and this makes any allusion to sacrifice doubtful. Contrast Ephesians 5:2, where see J. A. Robinson. In Philippians 4:18, ὀσμὴν εὐωδίας, θυσίαν δεκτήν is used of the gifts of the Philippians to the Apostle. Cf. Ezekiel 20:41; Malachi 3:4. In N.T. εὐωδία is found only in Paul. See Index IV.

ἐν τοῖς σωζομένοις καὶ ἐν τοῖς�Luke 13:23; Acts 2:47; see on 1 Corinthians 1:18) and among those who are perishing’ (4:3; 1 Corinthians 1:18; 2 Thessalonians 2:10). The ‘perfective’ verb�Luke 15:17; Matthew 8:25) gives the idea of something which is regarded as certain at the moment of utterance. The�1 Corinthians 10:9, 1 Corinthians 10:15:18; Romans 2:12; Philippians 1:28, Philippians 3:18.

16. ὲκ θανάτου εἰς θάνατον … ἐκ ζωῆς εἰς ζωἠν. The classes just mentioned are taken in reverse order: chiasmus is freq. in these Epistles (4:3, 6:8, 9:6, 10:11, 13:3; 1 Corinthians 3:17, 1 Corinthians 4:10, 1 Corinthians 8:13, 1 Corinthians 13:2). ‘A savour from death to death … a savour from life to life.’ It may be doubted whether the double ἐκ … εἰς ought to be pressed and rigidly interpreted. Perhaps nothing more is meant than continuous succession, as when we say ‘from day to day,’ ‘from strength to strength.’ In such cases it would be misleading to insist upon ‘out of’ and ‘into’ as the meaning of ‘from’ and ‘to,’ and ‘then ask, ‘out of what?’ and ‘into what?’ It is easy to see that to some persons the Gospel message may be εἰς θάνατον. ‘What should have been to their wealth’ becomes, through their own fault, ‘an occasion of falling’ lower and lower. But it is not easy to see how the Gospel can be ἐκ θανάτου, in the sense that it proceeds ‘out of death.’ Progress from one evil condition to another is what is meant, movement from bad to worse. They were in a condition that was virtually fatal when the Gospel came to them, and its effect was to confirm that fatal tendency. The idea of pestilential air coming from a corpse is not required. Nor need we, with Bousset, bring in the oriental idea that the perfumes of heaven, or other strong smells (Tobit 8:2, 3), will drive demons back to hell. Chrys. does not help us with the remark that ointment is said to suffocate swine, nor Thdrt, with the popular belief that sweet odours drive away vultures. Evidence of this curious belief is given by Wetstein. It is better to abide by the comment of Gregor. Nyss.; κατὰ τὴν προσοῦσαν ἑκάστῳ διάθεσιν ἢ ζωοποιὸς ἐγένετο ἢ θανατηφόρος ἡ εὔπνοια. So also Jerome (Ep. cxx. 11); Nominis Christi in omni loco bonus odor sumus Deo et praedicationis nostrae longe lateque spirat fragrantia. Sed odor noster qui per se bonus est, virtute eorum qui suscipiunt sive non suscipiunt in vitam transit aut mortem, ut qui crediderint salvi fiant, qui vero non crediderint pereant. Schoettgen and Wetstein quote Jewish sayings to the effect that the words of the Law are medicine to the wise and poison to fools. As regards the Χριστοῦ εὑωδία Saul of Tarsus and Paulus the Proconsul illustrate the one side, Simon Magus and Elymas Magus the other side.


καὶ πρὸς ταῦτα τίς ἱκανός; ‘Well, if that is true (see on v. 2), who is sufficient for these responsibilities?’ What kind of a minister ought he to be who preaches a Gospel which may prove fatal to those who come in contact with it? Vulg. has et ad haec quis tam idoneus? The tam has no authority in any Greek text, and it makes the question still more surprising in form; ‘Who is so competent as we are?’ Quis tam may be a mistake for quisnam.

We do not know enough about the situation to see why St Paul prepares the way for his elaborate vindication of the Apostolic office and of the Gospel (3:1-6:10) by flashing out this question in a way which, even without the tam, is almost offensive, and is certainly very abrupt. Augustine and Herveius interpret the question as meaning, ‘Who is competent to understand these things?’ which does not fit the context. ‘Who is equal to such responsibilities?’ is the meaning. The answer is not stated, but is clearly implied in the next verse; ‘We are, for, etc.’

ἐκ is omitted in both places by D E F G K L, Latt. Arm.; probably because of the difficulty of seeing how Χριστοῦ εὐωδία could be ἐκ θανάτου, Goth. has the second ἐκ, which is easy, and omits the first, which is difficult. We must read ἐκ in both places with א A B C Copt. Aeth., Clem-Alex. Orig.

17. οὐ γάρ ἐσμεν ὡς οἱ πολλοί. The γάπ indicates the reply to the question just asked. ‘We are sufficient for these things, for we are not as the many teachers.’ Here we have for the first time in the Epistle a passage that is manifestly polemical. The Apostle’s opponents may have been in his thoughts in earlier places, but here it is quite certain that he is censuring other teachers for doing what the Apostle and his colleagues never do; they garble the word of God, in order to make the preaching of it more profitable to themselves. There are similar polemical hits in 3:1, 4:2, 5:12, while 10-13 teems with them, e.g. 10:12, 18, 11:12, 13, 20, 12:14. With ὡς οἱπολλοί comp. ὥς τινες (3:1). Here, as in Romans 5:15, Romans 5:19, AV ignores the article before πολλοί and translates ‘many’ instead of ‘the many.’ But we need not give the article its strongest force and make οἱ πολλοί mean ‘the majority,’ although it is likely that at Corinth the majority of the teachers were misleading the converts; and that the Judaizers on the one hand, and the advocates of Gentile licence on the other, far outnumbered the Apostle, Silvanus, and Timothy with whatever helpers they may have had. The meaning here seems to be ‘the mob of teachers,’ without comparing them in number with the Apostle and his colleagues. On the opposition to St Paul see K. Lake, Earlier Epp. pp. 219 f. In what sense he claims ἴκανότης for himself and his fellow-workers he tells us at once in 3:5, 6; none are sufficient, excepting those whom God has made so, and it is evident whom He has made sufficient, viz., those who preach His word as He would have it preached.

καπηλεύοντες τὸν λόγον τοῦ Θεοῦ. ‘Adulterating the word of God.’ The participle belongs to ἐσμέν not to οἱ πολλοί; ‘We are not people who adulterate the word.’ Vulg. has adulterantes for καπηλεύοντες here and for δολοῦντες 4:2. ‘Adulterate’ suggests more clearly than ‘corrupt’ (AV, RV) that the corruption is done for the sake of some miserable personal gain. The word occurs, nowhere else in Biblical Greek, but κάπηλος, ‘a retail dealer,’ occurs twice in LXX. In Isaiah 1:22 we have οἱκάπηλοί σου μίσγουσι τὸν οἱνον ὕδατι, ‘Thy hucksters mix their wine with water,’ in order to cheat the buyers; and Ecclus. 26:29, οὐ δικαιωθήσεται κάπηλος άπὸ ἁμαρτίας, ‘An huckster shall not be judged free from sin.’ St Paul may have had Isaiah 1:22 in his mind in using καπηλεύοντες. The Talmud counts the huckster as one whose business involves robbery, and Deuteronomy 30:13 is interpreted to mean that the Law cannot be found among hucksters or merchants. Plato says, “Knowledge is the food of the soul; and we must take care that the sophist does not deceive us when he praises what he sells, like those who sell the food of the body, the merchant and the hawker (κάπηλος); for they praise all their wares, without knowing what is good or bad for the body. In like manner those who carry about items of knowledge, to sell and hawk (καπηλεύοντες) them to any one who is in want of them, praise them, all alike, though neither they nor their customers know their effect upon the soul” (Protag. 313 D). Lucian says that philosophers dispose of their wares just as hucksters (κάπηλοι) do, most of them giving bad measure after adulterating and falsifying what they sell (Hermotimus, 59): κάπηλος is frequently used of a retailer of wine. Other illustrations in Wetstein.

The expression, ‘the word of God,’ ὁ λόγος τοῦ Θεοῦ, is very freq. in N.T., nearly forty times in all, without counting the expression, which is also freq., ‘the word of the Lord,’ ὁ λόγος τοῦ Κυρίον. It is specially common in Acts (twelve times) and in the Pauline Epp. (4:2; 1 Corinthians 15:36; Romans 9:6; Colossians 1:25; 1 Thessalonians 2:13; 2 Timothy 2:9; Titus 2:5). Its usual meaning, as here, is the Gospel as preached, the contents of the new religion, as set forth in the O.T. and in the life and teaching of Christ. Often ὁ λόγος, without τοῦ Θεοῦ, is used in much the same sense, and in interpreting it in the Pauline Epp. we must bear in mind 1 Corinthians 2:2, ‘I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and Him crucified,’ so that the preaching of the word means the preaching of Jesus Christ, crucified and raised again. It was this λόγος that was being adulterated at Corinth. See J. H. Bernard, Past Epp. pp. 74 f.; Harnack, Constitution and Law of the Church, pp. 332 f.

As to the manner of the adulteration, omnis doctor qui auctoritatem Scripturarum, per quam potest audientes corripere, vertit ad gratiam et ita loquitur ut non corrigat sed delectet audientes, vinum Scripurarum violat et corrumpit sensu suo (Jerome on Isaiah 1:22). As Chrys. puts it, such teachers τὰ αὐτῶν�

ἀλλʼ ὡς ἐξ εἰλικρινίας,�Luke 8:15), and is inspired by the faithful God (1:18) who cannot lie (Titus 1:2). Cf. οὐ γὰρ ὑμεῖς ἐστε οἰ λαλοῦντες,�Matthew 10:20). The ὡς means ‘as any one acts who acts ἑξ εἰλ, ἐκ Θ.’ The repetition of�1 Corinthians 6:11; ὡς as in Mt. 7:49; John 1:14.

κατέναντι Θεοῦ. Cf. 12:19; Romans 4:17, etc. Neither κατέναντι nor κατενώπιον is classical; both are found several times in N.T. and LXX. There is no�

ἐν Χριστῷ. See on v. 14. Neither Christi nomine (Grot.), nor secundum Christum (Calv.), nor de Christo (Beza), but, quite literally, in Christo (Vulg.); it is ‘in Christ,’ as members of His Body, that ministers of the Gospel do their work, in the power that flows from union with Him. The branches bear fruit by being in the vine, and in no other way (John 15:4).


In this last verse (17), St Paul states both negatively and positively some leading characteristics of the minister who is equal to the responsibility of delivering a message which is so crucial that it may determine, not only the salvation of those who are already seekers after truth, but also the ruin of those who have set their faces against it. Such a minister is not one who, in order to win converts on easy terms, waters down the claims which the Gospel makes upon those who accept it. He is one who teaches with the openness and fulness which come from the God who inspires him; and in God’s presence he works as befits a member of Christ. He has, as the motive of all that he does or says, not his own gain or glory or satisfaction, but the desire to serve God by causing others to perceive the sweetness and the saving power of knowing something of Him. St Paul’s own experiences lie at the root of all this. He never forgets how Saul the persecutor was changed into Paul the Apostle.

αἱ πολλοί (א A B C K, d e f Vulg. Copt. Aeth.) rather than οἰ λοιποί (D E F G L, g Syrr. Arm.). F G, d e f Vulg. Copt. Goth. omit the second ὡς F G, d e f g Vulg. Copt. Goth. omit the second�1 John 4:2.










* The Vulg. varies much in the trans-lation of κρίνω: statuo, aestimo, judicio subjicio, and (most often) judicio.

B B (Fourth century). Codex Vaticanus.

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.


37 37. (Evan. 69, Acts 69, Rev_14. Fifteenth century). The well-known Leicester codex; belongs to the Ferrar group.


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

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.

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

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.

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.

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

* In the frayed original only νιν is legible; and εἰκόνιν = είκὀνιον is a better restoration than ὀθὀνιν, which was an earlier conjecture.

† Wieseler thinks that these verses may refer to the letter of 1 Corinthians 5:9, but they evidently refer to something more recent, and to the last letter which he had sent them. As this cannot be 1 Cor., it must be a letter written later than 1 Cor.

O O (Ninth century). Two leaves at Petrograd contain 2 Corinthians 1:20.


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

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

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

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

* “These words cannot be referred to our first canonical Epistle, and no more characterise its general tone than what he says about his second visit describes his first mission” (Orello Cone, Paul, p. 121).

* The omission is all the more astonishing when we remember that St Paul had ordered that the offender should be handed over to Satan, and that (on this hypothesis) the sentence had not been executed.

† McFadyen is inconsistent. On 1 Corinthians 5:1 he says that it is uncertain whether the father was dead when to son took his father’s wife; on 2 Corinthians 7:12 he assumes that the father was alive when the son formed this reveling union.


* Es muss sich hier um eine schwere persönlichs Kraänkung dest Paulus und um einen personlichen Beleidiger handeln (Bousset, p. 175). See also Hastings, DB i. p. 493; Enc. Bibl. 1:902; G. H. Rendall, p. 61; Schmiedel, p. 221. Bleek, Hilgenfeld, Ewald, Godet, Bachmann, Lietzmann und outhers take a similar view; the offence was a personal attack on St Paul.

† Krenkel’s suggestion that the offender had wronged a fellow-Christian in a matter of property has found little support. It is more probable than the supposed reference to 1 Corinthians 5:1; but the only reasonable hypothesis is that the�


* If the offender were the incestuous man, could St Paul have said, ‘He has not pained me at all’? For the moral of these words see Chadwick, The Pastoral Teaching of St. Paul, p. 239.

† Bachmann quotes what Zeus says about the parasites (Lucian, Timon, 10), ἱκανὴ καὶ αὔτη τιμωρία ἔσται αὐτοῖς, viz. that of seeing Timon rolling in money, which tells against the supposed distinction.

‡ Sufficiens non quantum ad Dei judicium, sed quantum expediebattmpori.

* Vulg. here and elsewhere uses donare to translate χαρίζεσθαι, and donare may mean ‘to forgive’; culpa gravis precibus donatur saepe suorum (Ov. pont.11. vii. 51). The idea that an offence involves a debt to be wiped out by punishment lies at the back of such language.

* Until the Reformation it was not seriously disputed that indulgenes were comparatively modern. But the Council of Trent (Sess. xxv.) delared them to have been used antiquissimis temporibus, and this view is authoritatively upheld.

* The corruption of ῃ to ει occurs elsewhere;�1 Corinthians 7:32).

* Vulg. always has circumvenire for πλεονεκτεῖν? (7:2, 12:17, 18; 1 Thessalonians 4:6): so also had Cyprian (Test. iii. 88).

* Cf. Acts 20:5, Acts 20:6, where the art, is omitted and inserted of the same place in consecutive verses.


† Valida fama percrebuit migraturum Alexandriam vel Ilium, trenslatis simul opibus imperii (Julius, 79).

d d The Latin companion of D

e d The Latin companion of E

* Suidas gives δημοσιεύσας as the equivalent of θριαμβεύσας.

† St Paul uses a number of words to xpress his relation to God as a minister of the Gospel. It is λειτουργία and διακονία (9:12), πρεσβεία (5:20), στρατεία (10:4), ὑπηρεσία and οἰκονομία (1 Corinthians 4:1); but this metaphor of being led in triumph by Him is the most striking of all.


* “Ask different persons what is the leading doctrine of the Apostle of the Gentiles, and you will get different answers. Some will reply, justification by faith, others, the liberty of the Gospel. You will find that for once when either of these doctrines is referred to , union with Christ will be mentioned ten times. They are indeed prominent. But it underlies the whyole.” (Lightfoot, Sermons in St Paul’s, p. 227).

* In LXX, the most common verbs with ὀσμήν are ποιεῖν and διδόναι

* “Wherever Christ’s servants are, there should be fragfrance. A Christian without this redolence is as impossible as incense whose presence is unfelt by those who come ear it. It penetrates the atmosphere and compels attention;—so plainly that their presence is, as it were, a perpetual challenge to their environment, repelling some, attracting others. They constitute a living standard, which compels men involuntarily to expose the inner quality of their life” (McFadyen, pp. 274 f.)

† Other terms used by St Paul in reference to the fate ofd unbelievers are θάνατος (Romans 6:23, Romans 8:6), φθορά (Galatians 6:8), ὀργή (Romans 2:5, Romans 2:8, Romans 2:5:9; 1 Thessalonians 1:10, 1 Thessalonians 5:9). But he is much more concerned to remind his readers that believers can be sure of salvation in Christ than to discuss the future of those who refuse to believe on Him


f d The Latin companion of F

g d The Latin companion of G



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