Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
1. with myself--in contrast to "you"
The same antithesis between Paul and them appears in
not come again . . . in heaviness--"sorrow"; implying
that he had already paid them one visit in sorrow
since his coming for the first time to Corinth. At that visit he had
warned them "he would not spare if he should come again" (see on
2Co 12:14; 13:1).
to the first Epistle. The "in heaviness" implies mutual pain;
they grieving him, and he them. Compare
"I make you sorry," and
"If any have caused grief (sorrow)." In this verse he accounts for
having postponed his visit, following up
2. For--proof that he shrinks from causing them sorrow
if I--The "I" is emphatic. Some detractor may say that this
is not my reason for not coming as I proposed; since I showed no
scruple in causing "heaviness," or sorrow, in my Epistle (the
first Epistle to the Corinthians). But I answer, If I be the one
to cause you sorrow, it is not that I have any pleasure in doing so.
Nay, my object was that he "who was made sorry by me" (namely, the
Corinthians in general,
but with tacit reference to the incestuous person in particular)
should repent, and so "make me glad," as has actually taken place; "for
. . . who is he then that?" &c.
3. I wrote this same unto you--namely, that I would not come to you
as, if I were to come then, it would have to be "in heaviness" (causing
sorrow both to him and them, owing to their impenitent state).
He refers to the first Epistle (compare
1Co 4:19, 21; 5:2-7, 13).
sorrow from them of whom I ought to rejoice--that is, sorrow from
their impenitence, when he ought, on the contrary, to have joy from
their penitent obedience. The latter happy effect was produced by his
first Epistle, whereas the former would have been the result, had he
then visited them as he had originally proposed.
having confidence . . . that my joy is the joy of you
all--trusting that you, too, would feel that there was sufficient
reason for the postponement, if it interfered with our mutual joy
[ALFORD]. The communion of saints, he feels
confident in them "ALL" (his charity overlooking,
for the moment the small section of his detractors at Corinth,
will make his joy
4. So far from my change of purpose being due to "lightness"
I wrote my letter to you
"out of much affliction (Greek, 'trouble') and anguish of heart,
and with many tears."
not that ye should be grieved--Translate, "be made sorry," to accord
with the translation,
My ultimate and main object was, "not that ye might be made sorry," but
that through sorrow you might be led to repentance, and so to joy,
redounding both to you and me
(2Co 2:2, 3).
I made you sorry before going to you, that when I went it might not be
necessary. He is easily made sorry, who is admonished by a friend
himself weeping [BENGEL].
that ye might know the love--of which it is a proof to rebuke sins
openly and in season [ESTIUS],
"Love" is the source from which sincere reproof springs; that the
Corinthians might ultimately recognize this as his motive, was the
which I have more abundantly unto you--who have been particularly
committed to me by God
1Co 4:15; 9:2).
5. grief . . . grieved--Translate as before, "sorrow . . . made sorry."
The "any" is a delicate way of referring to the incestuous person.
not . . . me, but in part--He has grieved me only in part (compare
that is, I am not the sole party aggrieved; most of you,
also, were aggrieved.
that I may not overcharge--that I may not unduly lay the weight of the
charge on you all, which I should do, if I made myself to be the sole
party aggrieved. ALFORD punctuates, "He hath not made sorry me, but in
part (that I press not too heavily; namely, on him) you all." Thus "you
all" is in contrast to "me"; and "in part" is explained in the
6. Sufficient--without increasing it, which would only drive him to
whereas the object of the punishment was, "that (his) spirit might be
saved" in the last day.
to such a man--a milder designation of the offender than if he had
been named [MEYER]. Rather, it expresses estrangement from
such a one who had caused such grief to the Church, and scandal to
this punishment--His being "delivered to Satan for the
destruction of the flesh"; not only excommunication, but bodily disease
1Co 5:4, 5).
inflicted of many--rather, "by the majority" (the more part of you).
Not by an individual priest, as in the Church of Rome, nor by the
bishops and clergy alone, but by the whole body of the Church.
7. with overmuch sorrow--Greek, "with
HIS overmuch sorrow."
8. confirm your love toward him--by giving effect in act, and showing
in deeds your love; namely, by restoring him to your fellowship and
praying for his recovering from the sickness penally inflicted on him.
9. For--Additional reason why they should restore the offender,
namely, as a "proof" of their obedience "in all things"; now in
love, as previously in punishing
at the apostle's desire. Besides his other reasons for deferring his
visit, he had the further view, though, perhaps, unperceived by them,
of making an experiment of their fidelity. This accounts for his
deferring to give, in his Epistle, the reason for his change of
plan (resolved on before writing it). This full discovery of his
motive comes naturally from him now, in the second Epistle, after he
had seen the success of his measures, but would not have been a
seasonable communication before. All this accords with reality, and is
as remote as possible from imposture [PALEY,
Horæ Paulinæ]. The interchange of feeling is marked
"I wrote . . . that ye might know the love," &c.:
here, "I did write, that I might know the proof of
10. Another encouragement to their taking on themselves the
responsibility of restoring the offender. They may be assured of Paul's
apostolic sanction to their doing so.
for if I forgave anything, to whom I forgave it--The oldest manuscripts
read, "For even what I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything."
for your sakes forgave I it--He uses the past tense, as of a thing
already determined on; as in
"I have judged already"; or, as speaking generally of forgiveness
granted, or to be granted. It is for your sakes I have forgiven, and do
forgive, that the Church (of which you are constituent members) may
suffer no hurt by the loss of a soul, and that ye may learn leniency as
well as faithfulness.
in the person of Christ--representing Christ, and acting by His
authority: answering to
"In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ . . . my spirit, with
the power of our Lord Jesus Christ."
11. Literally, "That we may have no advantage gained over us by
Satan," namely, by letting one of our members be lost to us through
despair, we ourselves furnishing Satan with the weapon, by our
repulsive harshness to one now penitent. The loss of a single sinner is
a common loss; therefore, in
he said, "for your sakes." Paul had "delivered" the offender "to Satan
for the destruction of the flesh, that the Spirit might be saved"
Satan sought to destroy the spirit also: to let him do so, would be to
give him an advantage, and let him overreach us.
not ignorant of his devices--"Ignorant" and "devices" are words akin
in sound and root in Greek: we are not without knowledge of his
12. Paul expected to meet Titus at Troas, to receive the tidings as to
the effect of his first Epistle on the Corinthian Church; but,
disappointed in his expectation there, he passed on to Macedonia,
where he met him at last
(2Co 7:5, 6, 7)
The history (Acts) does not record his passing through Troas, in
going from Ephesus to Macedonia; but it does in coming
from that country
also, that he had disciples there
which accords with the Epistle
"a door was opened unto me of the Lord"). An undesigned coincidence
marking genuineness [PALEY, Horæ
Paulinæ]. Doubtless Paul had fixed a time with Titus to meet
him at Troas; and had desired him, if detained so as not to be able to
be at Troas at that time, to proceed at once to Macedonia to Philippi,
the next station on his own journey. Hence, though a wide door of
Christian usefulness opened to him at Troas, his eagerness to hear from
Titus the tidings from Corinth, led him not to stay longer there when
the time fixed was past, but he hastened on to Macedonia to meet him
to preach--literally, "for the Gospel." He had been at Troas
before, but the vision of a man from Macedonia inviting him to come
over, prevented his remaining there
On his return to Asia, after the longer visit mentioned here, he stayed
and--that is, though Paul would, under ordinary circumstances, have
gladly stayed in Troas.
door . . . opened . . . of the Lord--Greek, "in the Lord," that
is, in His work, and by His gracious Providence.
13. no rest in my spirit--rather, "no rest for my spirit"
As here his "spirit" had no rest; so in
his "flesh." His "spirit" under the Holy Spirit, hence, concluded that
it was not necessary to avail himself of the "door" of usefulness at
Troas any longer.
taking . . . leave of them--the disciples at Troas.
14. Now--Greek, "But." Though we left Troas disappointed in not
meeting Titus there, and in having to leave so soon so wide a door,
"thanks be unto God," we were triumphantly blessed in both the good news
of you from Titus, and in the victories of the Gospel everywhere in our
progress. The cause of triumph cannot be restricted (as ALFORD
explains) to the former; for "always," and "in every place," show that
the latter also is intended.
causeth us to triumph--The Greek, is rather, as in
"triumphs over us": "leadeth us in triumph." Paul regarded himself as a
signal trophy of God's victorious power in Christ. His Almighty
Conqueror was leading him about, through all the cities of the Greek
and Roman world, as an illustrious example of His power at once to
subdue and to save. The foe of Christ was now the servant of Christ. As
to be led in triumph by man is the most miserable, so to be led in
triumph by God is the most glorious, lot that can befall any
Our only true triumphs are God's triumphs over us. His defeats of us are
our only true victories [ALFORD]. The image is taken from the triumphal
procession of a victorious general. The additional idea is perhaps
included, which distinguishes God's triumph from that of a human
general, that the captive is brought into willing obedience
to Christ, and so joins in the triumph: God "leads him in
triumph" as one not merely triumphed over, but also as one
triumphing over God's foes with God (which last will apply to
the apostle's triumphant missionary progress under the leading of God).
So BENGEL: "Who shows us in triumph, not
[merely] as conquered, but as the ministers of His victory. Not only
the victory, but the open 'showing' of the victory is marked: for there
follows, Who maketh manifest."
savour--retaining the image of a triumph. As the approach of the
triumphal procession was made known by the odor of incense scattered
far and wide by the incense-bearers in the train, so God "makes manifest
by us" (His now at once triumphed over and triumphing captives, compare
"Catch," literally, "Take captive so as to preserve alive") the sweet
savor of the knowledge of Christ, the triumphant Conqueror
everywhere. As the triumph strikes the eyes, so the savor the
nostrils; thus every sense feels the power of Christ's Gospel. This
manifestation (a word often recurring in his Epistles to the
refutes the Corinthian suspicions of his dishonestly, by
reserve, hiding anything from them
15. The order is in Greek, "For (it is) of Christ (that) we are
a sweet savor unto God"; thus, the "for" justifies his previous words
"the savor of HIS (Christ's) knowledge." We not
only scatter the savor; but "we are the sweet savor" itself
Joh 1:14, 16;
in them that are saved--rather, "that are being saved
. . . that are perishing" (see on
As the light, though it blinds in darkness the weak, is for all that
still light; and honey, though it taste bitter to the sick, is in
itself still sweet; so the Gospel is still of a sweet savor, though
many perish through unbelief [CHRYSOSTOM,
(2Co 4:3, 4, 6).
As some of the conquered foes led in triumph were put to death when the
procession reached the capitol, and to them the smell of the incense
was the "savor of death unto death," while to those saved alive, it was
the "savor of life," so the Gospel was to the different classes
and in them--in the case of them. "Those being saved"
"Those that are perishing"
16. savour of death unto death . . . of life unto
life--an odor arising out of death
(a mere announcement of a dead Christ, and
a virtually lifeless Gospel, in which light unbelievers regard the
ending (as the just and natural consequence) in death (to
the unbeliever); (but to the believer) an odor arising out of
life (that is, the announcement of a risen and living Saviour),
ending in life (to the believer)
who is sufficient for these things?--namely, for diffusing aright
everywhere the savor of Christ, so diverse in its effects on believers
and unbelievers. He here prepares the way for one purpose of his
Epistle, namely, to vindicate his apostolic mission from its detractors
at Corinth, who denied his sufficiency. The Greek order puts
prominently foremost the momentous and difficult task assigned to him,
"For these things, who is sufficient?" He answers his own question
(2Co 3:5, 6),
"Not that we are sufficient of ourselves, but our
sufficiency is of God, who hath made us able
(Greek, 'sufficient') ministers," &c.
17. not as many--
Rather, "the many," namely, the false teachers of whom he
treats (tenth through twelfth chapters, especially
which corrupt--Greek, "adulterating, as hucksters do wine for
"Make merchandise of you").
as of sincerity . . . as of God--as one speaking from (out of)
sincerity, as from (that is, by the command of, and so in dependence on)
in Christ's--as united to Him in living membership, and doing His
The whole Gospel must be delivered such as it is, without
concession to men's corruptions, and without selfish aims, if it is to
be blessed with success