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Bible Commentaries
2 Corinthians 2

Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New TestamentSchaff's NT Commentary

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Verse 1

2 Corinthians 2:1. But I determined this for myself, that I would not come again to you with sorrow. This is so plainly a continuance of his explanation of the delay of his expected visit to Corinth, that it is a pity a new chapter should in the recognised division have begun here.

Verse 2

2 Corinthians 2:2. For if I make you sorry ‘as I knew my First Letter would,’ who is he that maketh me glad ‘by the happy effect which I hoped the sharpness of that Letter would produce, and now I find has produced,’ but he that is made sorry by me? The use of the singular number “he,” in place of “they” here, is an evident allusion to the incestuous person, whom he had required the church at Corinth solemnly to excommunicate (1 Corinthians 5:1, etc.), but now it would appear thoroughly penitent.

Verse 3

2 Corinthians 2:3. And I wrote this very thing unto you (my peremptory demand for so severe a sentence), lest, when I came, I should have sorrow from them of whom I ought to rejoice. The strength of the step itself, the sharpness with which he had characterized the guilty act itself and indicated the procedure it demanded, the fact that such a case was unheard of before, and that excommunication, at least in so solemn a way as he had directed, had in no case probably been required before all these things combined would keep him in restless anxiety to know whether they had done as demanded of them, and if so, with what effect on the offender and the church itself. It was to give time to shew this that he had resolved to defer his promised visit till his return from Macedonia; and how glad he was that he had done this, he cannot refrain from telling them, after learning the blessed fruit that his severity had produced, and the joy with which he now looked forward to his next visit to them, having confidence in you all that our meeting will be one of mutual joy. Intensely strong must have been the feelings that wrung from such a man what he here writes, ‘with eyes dimmed by tears’ (as Stanley puts it), not that ye should be made sorry, but that ye might know the love which I have more abundantly unto you. Here follows an interesting digression as to how they should deal with the now penitent member after which the explanation, broken off here, is resumed (at 2 Corinthians 2:12).

Verse 5

2 Corinthians 2:5. But if any hath caused sorrow referring delicately and indirectly to the offender, he hath caused sorrow, not to me, but in part (that I press not too heavily) to you all. This is somewhat obscurely expressed, but the emphatic “me” seems to give the meaning thus: ‘The wrong has been done, not to me, but to some extent (for I would not press you too hard) to you all.’

Verse 6

2 Corinthians 2:6. Sufficient to such a man is this punishment inflicted by the many either ‘the majority,’ in which case the decision was not unanimous, some dissenting, for reasons not hard to seek: or (taking “the many” to refer to the publicity of the act) in presence of the gathered congregation, as directed expressly in 1 Corinthians 5:4.

Verse 7

2 Corinthians 2:7. so that contrariwise ye should rather forgive him, and comfort him, lest by any means such an one should be swallowed up with his overmuch sorrow. Beautiful tenderness this, after the merciless severity of his former Letter. Not a day beyond the needed separation from all Christian fellowship would he have this kept up, for the man’s sours sake.

Verse 8

2 Corinthians 2:8. Wherefore I beseech you to confirm your love towards him by as public a restoration to fellowship as publicly he had been banished from it.

Verse 9

2 Corinthians 2:9. For to this end also did I write, that I might know the proof of you, whether ye are obedient in all things not only for the man’s good and the preservation of church purity, but “also” to test their obedience to spiritual authority.

Verse 10

2 Corinthians 2:10. But to whom ye forgive any thing, I forgive also: ‘As your excommunication, in my absence, yet by my instructions, was mine, so will your restoration be,’ for what I also have forgiven, if I have forgiven any thing, for your sakes have I forgiven it in the person ( Gr. ‘the presence’) of Christ as though it were the act of Christ Himself, present in the midst of vou. No stronger claim to apostolic authority in the highest sense could be advanced.

Verse 11

2 Corinthians 2:11. that no advantage may be gained over us by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his devices. The personality and agency of Satan (as Alford well remarks) could hardly be expressed more strongly. To overreach the victorious servants of Christ in “destroying the works of the devil,” he is incessantly devising; and the argument is: ‘If he cannot prevent the expulsion from all Christian society of one by whose continuance in its fellowship he had hoped to succeed in corrupting it, he will try to persuade you that the case is too bad for pardon and restoration, and thus, driving the man to desperation or recklessness, accomplish his purpose in another way; for his subtleties and wiles we know right well from our own experience’ (see 1 Thessalonians 2:18; 2 Corinthians 12:7; and, on the whole subject, Ephesians 6:12, and 1 Peter 5:8).

Note. That Satan is at the bottom of any policy fitted to defeat the soldiers of Christ in the struggle between light and darkness, good and evil, is the principle involved in this very definite statement; and the nature of his agency here referred to deserves the special attention of those who are called to exercise the discipline of the Church. Preservation of the openly corrupt in the fellowship of the Church, if this can be effected, serves his purpose by contaminating the rest and lowering the standard of church purity; but when this fails, through the stern fidelity of the guardians of its sanctity, the hopelessness of all restoration to the fellowship of the Church and to Christian society even of the manifestly penitent will equally serve his purpose, as it will either harden the offender or drive him to despair, and thus indirectly weaken the Church’s influence, a lesson this to churches, congregations, and the friends of Christ in general, to beware, both of laxity towards those who bear His name but openly disgrace it, and of relentless severity towards those who, however deep their fall, give good evidence of genuine repentance.

Verse 12

2 Corinthians 2:12. Now when I came to Troas probably not the city only, but the region of ‘the Troad.’ It lay on the coast of Mysia, and commercially its importance was considerable, for the gospel of Christ, and a door was opened unto me of the Lord (compare 1 Corinthians 16:9). His object was to take advantage of this journey for missionary purposes, and the field here being open and rich for such work, he would fain have made some stay in it, but for his feverish anxiety for tidings from Corinth, of which he was disappointed by his not finding Titus waiting him there, as he expected.

Verse 13

2 Corinthians 2:13. I had no relief for my spirit, because I found not Titus my brother as if this seemed to bode ill news. He had sent him to Corinth (2 Corinthians 12:18) with the double purpose of hastening the collection and of bringing him accounts of the effect of his former letter. Before parting they had probably arranged their respective routes, so as to give reasonable hope of their meeting at Troas, and failing this in Macedonia; but taking my leave of them of the converts he found there, and probably others preparing for baptism.

I went forth into Macedonia and there meeting with Titus (perhaps at Philippi itself ), he got from him such tidings as caused him to break forth into the transport expressed in the next verse.

Verse 14

2 Corinthians 2:14. But thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ. The objections made to this sense are considered in the footnote. [1] Beyond all doubt, what immediately follows agrees best with the causative sense of the word here used, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place. ‘Though as good soldiers of Jesus Christ we seemed to be almost everywhere victorious, we feared greatly that Corinth, apparently our most wonderful triumph, was to prove a sad exception; but, blessed be God, it has not been so, but “in every place” even there He makes the sweet savour of the knowledge of Him in Christ, diffused through us, to go up as that of the offering up of an acceptable sacrifice.’

[1] According to the classical usage of the word, the true rendering of this clause is, ‘who triumphs over us,’ or ‘leads us in triumph;’ and some of the best interp reters think themselves bound so to interpret it, understanding the apostle to mean that God had so subdued his anxieties and fears as to make him feel as one conquered and carried in triumph as a captive. But this is so very unnatural (not-withstanding Meyer’s elaborate attempt to represent it as natural), that others in view of the obvious allusion to the Roman triumphs granted to distinguished conquerors to enter Rome with their captives in chains think that the victors as well as the vanquished were regarded as led home thus. But there are two fatal objections to this: (1) It is not according to the classical use of the Greek word, any more than that of the Authorised Version; (2) while it yields the same sense as our own version, it does so in a way not at all natural. It only remains to take the word here in a factitive or causative sense, as Meyer admits that in a number of passages in the LXX. and the New Testament words of that termination are used. (See Winer, Lexical Peculiarities, sec II. b.; Grimm, Lex, Nov. Test. sub voce; Lidd. and Sc.) The instincts of some of the Greek interpreters have led them to substantially the same result.

Verse 15

2 Corinthians 2:15. For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ. The figure is continued, but beautifully varied in application. In the former verse it was the knowledge of Himself, diffused by preachers, which went up as a sweet-smelling savour unto God: here it is the preachers themselves that go up, yet not in themselves considered, but as it were “Christ” Himself held forth by them. And this in the case of both classes of their auditors those alike who receive and who reject their message, in them that are being saved, and in them that are perishing each class being here described not by their reception or rejection of the message, but by the direction which, as such, they are each taking, an upward or downward, a saving or perishing direction (see on 1 Corinthians 1:18).

Verse 16

2 Corinthians 2:16. to the one a savour from death unto death; to the other a savour from life unto life: the one class, already “dead in trespasses and sins,” sinking deeper, and approaching nearer, by every successive resistance of the truth, to “the second death;” the other, already “alive unto God through Jesus Christ,” and through faith in His name, having that “life” invigorated and developed by every successive welcome given to the word of life ministered by us, towards that goal where, as “life eternal,” it shall need no more of our help.’ The idea here expressed, though indicated in 2 Corinthians 7:10 (“Godly sorrow worketh repentance unto salvation”) and in 1 Corinthians 1:18 and other places, is nowhere so explicitly and solemnly expressed as here. In neither case, says the apostle, is the final issue as yet seen: the saved are but partially saved here, though on the way to it; the lost are neither wholly nor finally lost, but are on the way to it. No wonder that, in view of such transcendent issues, he adds, And who is sufficient for these things?

Verse 17

2 Corinthians 2:17. For we are not as many, corrupting ( Gr. ‘ adulterating’) the word of God those characterised in chap. 10-11 in the strongest terms of reprobation. These have easy work of it they are “sufficient” for anything; but (as for us) as of sincerity, as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ: ‘Not ourselves, but Christ in us it is our one object to hold forth, and doing this as in the sight of God Himself whose spokesmen we are, and in view of the awful issues, who can but feel his own insufficiency?’

Bibliographical Information
Schaff, Philip. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 2". "Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/scn/2-corinthians-2.html. 1879-90.
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