Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
1. This is the third time I am coming to you--not merely preparing to come to you. This proves an intermediate visit between the two
Ac 18:1; 20:2.
In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be
Septuagint. "I will judge not without examination, nor will I
abstain from punishing upon due evidence" [CONYBEARE and HOWSON]. I will no
longer be among you "in all patience" towards offenders
The apostle in this case, where ordinary testimony was to be had, does
not look for an immediate revelation, nor does he order the culprits to
be cast out of the church before his arrival. Others understand the
"two or three witnesses" to mean his two or three visits as
establishing either (1) the truth of the facts alleged against the
offenders, or (2) the reality of his threats. I prefer the first
explanation to either of the two latter.
2. Rather, "I have already said (at my second visit), and tell you
(now) beforehand, AS (I did)
WHEN I WAS PRESENT THE SECOND TIME, SO also
NOW in my absence (the oldest manuscripts omit the 'I write,' which here
wrongly follows in English Version Greek text) to them which
heretofore have sinned (namely, before my second visit,
and to all others (who have sinned since my second visit, or are in
danger of sinning)." The English Version, "as if I were
present the second time," namely, this next time, is quite
"this is the third time I am coming to you," as Paul could not
have called the same journey at once "the second" and "the third time"
of his coming. The antithesis between "the second time" and "now" is
if I come again, &c.--that is, whensoever I come again
These were probably the very words of his former threat which he now
3. Since--The reason why he will not spare: Since ye challenge
me to give a "proof" that Christ speaks in me. It would be better if ye
would "prove your own selves"
This disproves the assertion of some that Scripture nowhere asserts the
infallibility of its writers when writing it.
is not weak--in relation to you, by me and in this very Epistle, in
exercising upon you strong discipline.
mighty in you--has given many proofs of His power in miracles, and
even in punishing offenders
(2Co 5:11, 20, 21).
Ye have no need to put me to the proof in this, as long ago Christ has
exhibited great proofs of His power by me among you
[GROTIUS]. It is therefore not me, but Christ,
whom ye wrong: it is His patience that ye try in despising my
admonitions, and derogating from my authority [CALVIN].
4. though--omitted in some of the oldest manuscripts; then translate,
"For He was even crucified," &c.
through weakness--Greek, "from weakness"; that is, His assumption
of our weakness was the source, or necessary condition, from which
the possibility of His crucifixion flowed
Php 2:7, 8).
by--Greek, "from"; "owing to."
the power of God--the Father
(Ro 1:4; 6:4;
weak in him--that is, in virtue of our union with Him, and after His
pattern, weakness predominates in us for a time (exhibited in our
"infirmities" and weak "bodily presence,"
2Co 10:10; 12:5, 9, 10;
and also in our not putting into immediate exercise our power of
punishing offenders, just as Christ for a time kept in abeyance His
we shall live with him--not only hereafter with Him, free from our
present infirmities, in the resurrection life
but presently in the exercise of our apostolic authority against
offenders, which flows to us in respect to you from the power
of God, however "weak" we now seem to you. "With Him," that is,
even as He now exercises His power in His glorified resurrection life,
after His weakness for a time.
5. Examine--Greek, "Try (make trial of) yourselves."
prove your own selves--This should be your first aim, rather than
"seeking a proof of Christ speaking in me"
your own selves--I need not speak much in proof of Christ being in
me, your minister
for if ye try your own selves ye will see that Christ is also in
Finding Christ dwelling in yourselves by faith, ye may well believe
that He speaks in me, by whose ministry ye have received this faith
[ESTIUS]. To doubt it would be the sin of Israel,
who, after so many miracles and experimental proofs of God's presence,
"Is the Lord among us or not?" (Compare
except ye be reprobates--The Greek softens the expression,
"somewhat reprobates," that is, not abiding the "proof"
(alluding to the same word in the context); failing when tested.
Image from metals
6. we . . . not reprobates--not unable to abide the
proof to which ye put us
"I trust that" your own Christianity will be recognized by you
(observe, "ye shall know," answers to "know your own
as sufficient "proof" that ye are not reprobates, but that "Christ
speaks in me," without needing a proof from me more trying to
yourselves. If ye doubt my apostleship, ye must doubt your own
Christianity, for ye are the fruits of my apostleship.
7. I pray--The oldest manuscripts read, "we pray."
not that we should appear approved--not to gain credit for ourselves,
your ministers, by your Christian conduct; but for your good [ALFORD].
The antithesis to "reprobates" leads me to prefer explaining with
BENGEL, "We do not pray that we may appear approved," by
restraining you when ye do evil; "but that ye should do what is
right" (English Version, "honest").
though we be as reprobates--though we be thereby deprived of the
occasion for exercising our apostolic power (namely, in punishing), and
so may appear "as reprobates" (incapable of affording proof of Christ
speaking in us).
8. Our apostolic power is given us that we may use it not against, but
for the furtherance of, the truth. Where you are free from fault, there
is no scope for its exercise: and this I desire. Far be it from me to
use it against the innocent, merely in order to increase my own power
9. are glad--Greek, "rejoice."
when we are weak--having no occasion for displaying our power; and
so seeming "weak," as being compassed with "infirmities"
(2Co 10:10; 11:29, 30).
ye . . . strong--"mighty" in faith and the fruits of the Spirit.
and--not in the oldest manuscripts.
we wish--Greek, "pray for."
your perfection--literally, "perfect restoration"; literally,
that of a dislocated limb. Compare
"Be perfect," the same Greek word; also in
"perfectly joined together";
"the perfecting of the saints."
10. Therefore--because I wish the "sharpness" to be in my
letters rather than in deeds [CHRYSOSTOM].
edification . . . not to destruction--for building up . . . not for casting down. To "use sharpness" would
seem to be casting down, rather than building up; therefore he
prefers not to have to use it.
11. farewell--meaning in Greek also "rejoice"; thus in bidding
farewell he returns to the point with which he set out, "we are helpers
of your joy"
Be perfect--Become perfect by filling up what is lacking in your
be of good comfort--
(2Co 1:6; 7:8-13;
14. The benediction which proves the doctrine of the Divine Trinity
in unity. "The grace of Christ" comes first, for it is only by it we
come to "the love of God" the Father
The variety in the order of Persons proves that "in this Trinity none
is afore or after other" [Athanasian Creed].
communion--joint fellowship, or participation, in the same Holy
Ghost, which joins in one catholic Church, His temple, both Jews and
Gentiles. Whoever has "the fellowship of the Holy Ghost," has also
"the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ," and "the love of God"; and vice
versa. For the three are inseparable, as the three Persons of the
Trinity itself [CHRYSOSTOM]. The doctrine of the
Trinity was not revealed clearly and fully till Christ came, and the
whole scheme of our redemption was manifested in Him, and we know the
Holy Three in One more in their relations to us (as set forth
summarily in this benediction), than in their mutual relations to
Amen--omitted in the oldest manuscripts. Probably added subsequently
for the exigencies of public joint worship.