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Bible Commentaries
2 Corinthians 2

Whedon's Commentary on the BibleWhedon's Commentary

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Verse 1

1. But The break of the chapter division very unfortunately interrupts the thought of the paragraph 2 Corinthians 1:2 to 2 Corinthians 2:4. Overleaping the parenthetic verse, 2 Corinthians 1:24, this 2 Corinthians 2:1 joins on to 2 Corinthians 1:23, as shown by our summary at the beginning of the section. Paul had said that he withheld his visit to spare them; he now continues to say in what respect to spare them.

With myself Rather for myself; in my own interest as well as for you.

Again See note, 2 Corinthians 12:14.

Heaviness The Greek for this word, and for sorry, twice. (2 Corinthians 2:2,) sorrow, (2 Corinthians 2:3,) grieved, (2 Corinthians 2:4,) grief and grieved, (2 Corinthians 2:5,) sorrow, (2 Corinthians 2:7,) are all radically the same word, and should have been uniformly translated grief, or grieved.

Verses 1-4

2. Paul’s motive for changing his plan of visit, was a wish not to come to their grief, 2 Corinthians 1:23 to 2 Corinthians 2:4.

St. Paul most earnestly protests that his not coming, as planned, was to spare them, 2 Corinthians 1:23. Not that by the term spare he claims to be lord of their faith; for faith must be free, and by a free faith do they stand; but by severe purifying of their Church he would really aid their joy, 24. But his spare, means, that he determined, even in his own behalf, not to come with an afflicting mission to them. See 2 Corinthians 2:1. This in his own behalf, for if he saddened them, his own sole consolers, he abolished the sole source of his own comfort, 2 Corinthians 2:2. And he wrote the very severities of his first epistle in order that, the severities being finished in the writing, when he should come he would find a purified Church, and no grief, but a common joy, 2. 3. His writing was, indeed, in tears; but his object in writing was not their grief, but a manifestation of his own love in bringing them to purity and rectitude.

Verse 2

2. If, by a severe visitation, I make you sorry, what other consoler than you shall I find for my own sorrows? I need an overflowing gladness in your heart to pour gladness into mine. But for you, and such as you, I am alone in a hostile world. Joyous Christian sympathy is my sole human life; how, then, can I dry up its sources by saddening such as you?

Verse 3

3. Wrote this same This very series of rebukes and corrections, in my first epistle. He preferred to do it entire by letter, that the sorrow might be over and past when he came to make his visits; having confidence in them all, that the joy of the union of their apostle with a purified Church would be the joy of all.

Verse 4

4. Anguish of heart Arising from the scandal of the Corinthian disorders and the necessity of stern discipline.

Many tears Even of tenderness for those he rebuked.

That ye should be grieved Was the unavoidable result, but not the object desired. But that ye might have the moral elevation and high Christian magnanimity to know that even my severity was but a form of love.

This whole section is expressed in Paul’s most terse and sententious style, indicating a penetrative quickness in his readers at understanding his closely-wrapped meaning. Not less remarkable is the deep tenderness and delicacy of feeling, and the high moral platform on which Paul assumes that both he and his Corinthian readers stand. The same tenderness suffuses his words in regard to the incestuous offender, whose image now individualizes itself to his view.

Verse 5

3. The case of the incestuous, now penitent, 2 Corinthians 2:5-11.

5. But if any Any one. A very delicate introduction of the offender, whose crime Paul now avoids even to name.

He… all The literal rendering is: He hath grieved, not me, but partially that I may not press too heavily you all. The only difficulty is in the apologetic phrase that… heavily. We understand that Paul therein declines the arrogance of claiming the whole offence as being committed against himself. The grieved feelings of others, namely, the Corinthian saints, are to be taken into view. The offender has wounded not me alone; and I say this to avoid the arrogance of seeming to regard myself solely.

Verse 6

6. Such a man The such implies such penitence as to justify forgiveness, and the next verse shows that his sensibilities were liable to become extreme.

Punishment Paul avoids naming the penalty as well as the crime. It was, probably, suspension of fellowship by a vote of many, or, more accurately, of the majority.

Verse 7

7. Contrariwise The reverse of penalty.

Forgive Literally, favour him, implying probable forgiveness.

Overmuch sorrow Leading to despair, perhaps to insanity or suicide. In all this is implied that the criminal viewed the judgment of the Church as the judgment of God, and preventive of his salvation.

Verse 8

8. Beseech you As yet the Church, though predisposed to lenity and love, had not acted for his restoration.

Confirm Put into authoritative form by official restoration.

Verse 9

9. For St. Paul now indicates that the entire object of his commands in the first epistle touching the incestuous one is accomplished. Besides the salvation and restoration, by wholesome severity and mercy, of the criminal’s soul, he also sought proof whether the Church would be obedient to its apostle. This was a most momentous test; for, otherwise, they also were criminal with the incestuous criminal. There were both a fallen man and a fallen Church.

Verse 10

10. To whom A general, but assuming only the particular, case.

I forgive also Literally, also I. The full unity of the Church with the apostle being assured, he now affirms his full unity with the Church. Knowing their wisdom and rectitude, he ratifies their action in advance.

In the person of Christ Not in his presence, but as acting for his person. Christ doing it by me, his representative. So his order to excommunicate (1 Corinthians 5:4) was in the name of our Lord Jesus.

Verse 11

11. Lest… us Literally, Lest we should be overreached by Satan. He had, perhaps, been surrendered by excommunication to Satan, (see note on 1 Corinthians 5:5,) but in order to really save him from Satan. But if Satan really completely gained him, they would be overreached and cheated of their purpose of saving the sinner.

Devices How Satan gains and keeps apostates we have seen illustrated by too many instances. We are not quite sure that those who fall from grace will rise again.

Verse 12

12. When I came to Troas Literally, But having come to Troas, or, the Troad. The name may imply either the city or its territorial section; but of course Paul was at the city.

It was in the early summer of the year 57 that Paul left Ephesus for Troas, as the commencement of his second tour through Macedonia into Southern Greece. Probably Tychicus and Trophimus were with him. He may have gone by sea, as safer than the land route, with its “perils by robbers.” But a great thoroughfare passed from Ephesus via Smyrna and Pergamos to Troas.

To preach Christ’s gospel His purpose was to establish Christianity, and he seems to have passed the other great cities, because it was at the seaport of Troas he expected Titus to arrive from Corinth, across the AEgean.

A door was opened Access was clear for preaching Christ to the people, and founding a Church.

Verses 12-17

4. St. Paul’s lingering at Troas and Macedonia to hear from them before he came, 2 Corinthians 2:12-17.

Many commentators consider 2 Corinthians 2:5-11 “a digression ;” but if we consider the whole section (2 Corinthians 1:8 to 2 Corinthians 5:21) as a survey of St. Paul’s apostolic relations to the Corinthians, 2 Corinthians 2:5-11 is rather a parenthetic incident in the straight line of thought than a digression, and 2 Corinthians 2:12 may still be considered as joining on to 2 Corinthians 2:4.

Verse 13

13. No rest Worn by the excitement of the riot at Ephesus, anxious for Titus and Corinth, Paul was for several weeks incapacitated for seizing the prize of evangelizing Troas. See on 2 Corinthians 1:8. Compare this visit with those narrated by Luke in Acts 16:8-11, and in Acts 20:5-12, with our notes.

Into Macedonia Hoping, doubtless, that as Titus might have come by the land route, he might meet his brother there. Titus, then, arrived in time, and his report was on the whole such that Paul returns to the Corinthians the following joyful paragraph.

Verse 14

14. Causeth us to triumph Rather, leadeth us in triumph; for God is the victor; and the apostle views himself in the double capacity of captive-led, and of the joyful priests burning the incense that made the air and the occasion agreeable to the nostrils of the spectators.

Many commentators, as well as the Vulgate and our translators, have given to the Greek verb a causative sense causeth us to triumph triumphs us. St. Chrysostom, to whom Greek was vernacular, gives it that sense in a spirited passage. “Thanks be to God who triumphs us, that is, makes us illustrious in the eyes of all. Our persecutors are the trophies which we erect in every land.” On the nature of the Roman triumph, see Colossians 2:15.

Verse 15

15. We Apostles and preachers.

Unto God In God’s view and purpose.

Sweet savour Odour. Garlands were flung and spices were burned in the streets through which a triumphal procession passed. In this energetic language Paul makes the preachers themselves the very odour they diffuse.

Of Christ As if Christ were a garland of flowers, and the gospel were the fragrance from it emitted.

Are saved Are in the process of being saved.

Verse 16

16. Savour of death unto death An odour savouring of, and tending unto, and resulting in, death. Unpardoned prisoners, who were to be executed on the arrival of the victor at the Capitol, were often in the procession. To them the odour was redolent of death and pointed unto death. Others were to be spared; and to them the incense was fragrant of life and prophetic unto life. The impenitent hearers of the gospel represent the condemned captives.

Sufficient… things Literally, and for these things who is adequate? These things refer to the preaching of the gospel, with its fearful alternatives of life and death eternal. The apostle began the paragraph at 2 Corinthians 2:14; as a pean, but it ends in a wail. He would that all might be rescued unto life, but what sufficiency has man for such a result?

Verse 17

17. For Reason for this agonized exclamation.

Many Literally, the many; the multitudes. The word often signifies the entire whole, but more often the commonalty in distinction from the choice few or one.

Which corrupt Literally, which huckster. The verb is derived from a noun signifying a huckster, or pedler of small wares, wines, or provisions. And they were reputed as guilty of adulterating, tricking, and cheating for gain. And so the pagan satirist, Lucian, says: “The philosophers retail their teachings, like hucksters, the great body of them mixing, cheating, and dealing false measures.” Paul refers to the errorists who were trying to make gain by adulterating the word of God such as the Judaists, who substituted circumcision for Christ; the Libertines, who defended incest; the Gnostics, who denied the literal resurrection of the body. Of Out from sincerity, as from a pure fountain. Of Out from God, as the primal source of our utterance by his inspiration.

In the sight of God With, therefore, a dread sense of the necessity of pureness and rectitude.

In Christ In his power, gospel, and very being. This solemn and cumulative assertion of sincerity, inspiration, and identification with Christ is in powerful issue with his Judaic opposers, who, while claiming to be Christine, truly depreciated Christ. But how does all this furnish reason for the wail as indicated by the above for. It furnishes reason why it was he that uttered it. He felt the solemn responsibilities implied in 2 Corinthians 2:15-16, the hucksters did not.

Bibliographical Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 2". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/whe/2-corinthians-2.html. 1874-1909.
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