Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
SINCERITY TOWARDS THE
1. Timothy our brother--When writing to Timothy himself,
he calls him "my son"
Writing of him, "brother," and "my beloved son"
He had been sent before to Macedonia, and had met Paul at Philippi,
when the apostle passed over from Troas to Macedonia (compare
2Co 2:12, 13;
1Co 16:10, 11).
in all Achaia--comprising Hellas and the Peloponnese. The Gentiles
themselves, and Annæus Gallio, the proconsul
strongly testified their disapproval of the accusation brought by the
Jews against Paul. Hence, the apostle was enabled to labor in the whole
province of Achaia with such success as to establish several churches
where, writing from Corinth, he speaks of the "churches," namely, not
only the Corinthian, but others also--Athens, Cenchrea, and, perhaps,
Sicyon, Argos, &c. He addresses "the Church in Corinth,"
directly, and all "the saints" in the province,
all the "churches" are addressed directly in the same
circular Epistle. Hence, here he does not say, all the churches,
but "all the saints."
3. This thanksgiving for his late deliverance forms a suitable
introduction for conciliating their favorable reception of his reasons
for not having fulfilled his promise of visiting them
Father of mercies--that is, the SOURCE of all mercies (compare
comfort--which flows from His "mercies" experienced. Like a true man
of faith, he mentions "mercies" and "comfort," before he proceeds to
speak of afflictions
The "tribulation" of believers is not inconsistent with God's mercy,
and does not beget in them suspicion of it; nay, in the end they feel
that He is "the God of ALL comfort," that is, who
imparts the only true and perfect comfort in every
(Ps 146:3, 5, 8;
4. us--idiomatic for me
that we may . . . comfort them which are in any trouble--Translate, as
the Greek is the same as before, "tribulation." The apostle lived,
not to himself, but to the Church; so, whatever graces God conferred on
him, he considered granted not for himself alone, but that he might have
the greater ability to help others
[CALVIN]. So participation in all the
afflictions of man peculiarly qualified Jesus to be man's comforter in
all his various afflictions
5. sufferings--standing in contrast with "salvation"
as "tribulation" (distress of mind), with comfort or "consolation."
The sufferings endured, whether by Himself, or by His Church,
with which He considers Himself identified
(Mt 25:40, 45;
Christ calls His people's sufferings His own suffering: (1) because of
the sympathy and mystical union between Him and us
(2) They are borne for His sake; (3) They tend to His glory
1Pe 4:14, 16).
abound in us--Greek, "abound unto us." The order of the
Greek following words is more forcible than in English Version, "Even so through Christ aboundeth also our comfort." The sufferings
(plural) are many; but the consolation (though singular) swallows up
them all. Comfort preponderates in this Epistle above that in the first
Epistle, as now by the effect of the latter most of the Corinthians had
been much impressed.
6. we . . . afflicted . . . for your
consolation--exemplifying the communion of saints. Their hearts
were, so to speak, mirrors reflecting the likenesses of each other
(Php 2:26, 27)
[BENGEL]. Alike the afflictions and the
consolations of the apostle tend, as in him so in them, as having
communion with him, to their consolation
(2Co 1:4; 4:15).
The Greek for "afflicted" is the same as before, and ought to be
translated, "Whether we be in tribulation."
which is effectual--literally, "worketh effectually."
in the enduring, &c.--that is, in enabling you to endure "the same
sufferings which we also suffer." Here follows, in the oldest
manuscripts (not as English Version in the beginning of
the clause, "And our hope is steadfast on your behalf."
7. so shall ye be--rather, "So are ye." He means,
there is a community of consolation, as of suffering, between me
8, 9. Referring to the imminent risk of life which he ran in Ephesus
when the whole multitude were wrought up to fury by Demetrius, on the
plea of Paul and his associates having assailed the religion of Diana
of Ephesus. The words
"we had the sentence of death in ourselves," mean, that he looked
upon himself as a man condemned to die [PALEY]. ALFORD thinks the danger at
Ephesus was comparatively so slight that it cannot be supposed to be
the subject of reference here, without exposing the apostle to a charge
of cowardice, very unlike his fearless character; hence, he supposes
Paul refers to some deadly sickness which he had suffered under
(2Co 1:9, 10).
But there is little doubt that, had Paul been found by the mob in the
excitement, he would have been torn in pieces; and probably, besides
what Luke in Acts records, there were other dangers of an equally
distressing kind, such as, "lyings in wait of the Jews"
his ceaseless foes. They, doubtless, had incited the multitude at
and were the chief of the "many adversaries" and "[wild] beasts," which
he had to fight with there
(1Co 15:32; 16:9).
His weak state of health at the time combined with all this to make him
regard himself as all but dead
(2Co 11:29; 12:10).
What makes my supposition probable is, that the very cause of his not
having visited Corinth directly as he had intended, and for which he
proceeds to apologize
was, that there might be time to see whether the evils arising there
not only from Greek, but from Jewish disturbers of the Church
would be checked by his first Epistle; there not being fully so was
what entailed on him the need of writing this second Epistle. His not
specifying this here expressly is just what we might expect in
the outset of this letter; towards the close, when he had won their
favorable hearing by a kindly and firm tone, he gives a more distinct
reference to Jewish agitators
above strength--that is, ordinary, natural powers of endurance.
despaired--as far as human help or hope from man was concerned. But
in respect to help from God we were "not in despair"
in God which raiseth the dead--We had so given up all thoughts
of life, that our only hope was fixed on the coming resurrection; so in
his hope of the resurrection was what buoyed him up in contending with
foes, savage as wild beasts. Here he touches only on the doctrine of
the resurrection, taking it for granted that its truth is admitted by
the Corinthians, and urging its bearing on their practice.
10. doth deliver--The oldest manuscripts read, "will deliver,"
namely, as regards immediately imminent dangers. "In whom we
trust that He will also (so the Greek) yet deliver us," refers
to the continuance of God's delivering help
11. helping together by prayer for us--rather, "helping together on
our behalf by your supplication"; the words "for us" in the Greek following "helping together," not "prayer."
that for the gift, &c.--literally, "That on the part of many persons
the gift (literally, 'gift of grace'; the mercy) bestowed upon us by
means of (that is, through the prayers of) many may be offered thanks
for (may have thanks offered for it) on our behalf."
12. For--reason why he may confidently look for their prayers for him.
our rejoicing--Greek, "our glorying." Not that he glories in the
testimony of his conscience, as something to boast of; nay, this
testimony is itself the thing in which his glorying consists.
in simplicity--Most of the oldest manuscripts read, "in holiness."
English Version reading is perhaps a gloss from
Some of the oldest manuscripts and versions, however, support it.
godly sincerity--literally, "sincerity of God"; that is, sincerity
as in the presence of God
We glory in this in spite of all our adversities.
Sincerity in Greek implies the non-admixture of any
foreign element. He had no sinister or selfish aims (as some
insinuated) in failing to visit them as he had promised: such aims
belonged to his adversaries, not to him
"Fleshly wisdom" suggests tortuous and insincere courses; but the
"grace of God," which influenced him by God's gifts
(Ro 12:3; 15:15),
suggests holy straightforwardness and sincere faithfulness to promises
even as God is faithful to His promises. The prudence which subserves
selfish interests, or employs unchristian means, or relies on human
means more than on the Divine Spirit, is "fleshly wisdom."
in the world--even in relation to the world at large, which is full of
more abundantly to you-ward--
His greater love to them would lead him to manifest, especially to
them, proofs of his sincerity, which his less close connection with
the world did not admit of his exhibiting towards it.
13. We write none other things (in this Epistle) than what ye read
(in my former Epistle [BENGEL]; present, because the Epistle
continued still to be read in the Church as an apostolic rule).
HOWSON think Paul had been suspected of writing privately
to some individuals in the Church in a different strain from that of his
public letters; and translates, "I write nothing else to you but what ye
read openly (the Greek meaning, 'ye read aloud,' namely,
when Paul's Epistles were publicly read in the congregation,
yea, and what you acknowledge inwardly."
or acknowledge--Greek, "or even acknowledge." The Greek for
"read" and for "acknowledge" are words kindred in sound and root. I
would translate, "None other things than what ye know by reading (by
comparing my former Epistle with my present Epistle), or even know as a
matter of fact (namely, the consistency of my acts with my words)."
even to the end--of my life. Not excluding reference to
the day of the Lord (end of
14. in part--In contrast to "even to the end": the testimony
of his life was not yet completed [THEOPHYLACT and
BENGEL]. Rather, "in
part," that is, some of you, not all [GROTIUS,
ALFORD]. So in
The majority at Corinth had shown a willing compliance with Paul's
directions in the first Epistle: but some were still refractory. Hence
arises the difference of tone in different parts of this Epistle. See
your rejoicing--your subject of glorying or boast. "Are" (not
merely shall be) implies the present recognition of one another as a
subject of mutual glorying: that glorying being about to be
realized in its fulness "in the day (of the coming) of the Lord Jesus."
15. in this confidence--of my character for sincerity being
"acknowledged" by you
was minded--I was intending.
before--"to come unto you before" visiting Macedonia (where he
now was). Compare Note, see on
also see on
which, combined with the words here, implies that the insinuation of
some at Corinth, that he would not come at all, rested on the fact of
his having thus disappointed them. His change of intention, and
ultimate resolution of going through Macedonia first, took place before
his sending Timothy from Ephesus into Macedonia, and therefore
before his writing the first Epistle. Compare
Ac 19:21, 22
(the order there is "Macedonia and Achaia," not Achaia,
Ac 20:1, 2.
that ye might have a second benefit--one in going to, the other in
returning from, Macedonia. The "benefit" of his visits consisted in the
grace and spiritual gifts which he was the means of imparting
(Ro 1:11, 12).
16. This intention of visiting them on the way to Macedonia, as
well as after having passed through it, must have reached the ears of
the Corinthians in some way or other--perhaps in the lost Epistle
(1Co 4:18; 5:9).
The sense comes out more clearly in the Greek order, "By you to
pass into Macedonia, and from Macedonia to come again unto you."
17. use lightness--Was I guilty of levity? namely, by promising more
than I performed.
or . . . according to the flesh, that with me there should
be yea, yea . . . nay, nay?--The "or" expresses a
different alternative: Did I act with levity, or (on the other hand) do
I purpose what I purpose like worldly (fleshly) men, so that my "yea"
must at all costs be yea, and my "nay" nay
(Mt 14:7, 9)?
The repetition of the "yea" and "nay" hardly agrees with ALFORD'S view, "What I purpose do I purpose according to
the changeable purposes of the fleshly (worldly) man, that there may be
with me the yea yea, and the nay nay (that is, both affirmation and
negation concerning the same thing)?" The repetition will thus stand
for the single yea and nay, as in
But the latter passage implies that the double "yea" here is not
equivalent to the single "yea": BENGEL'S view,
therefore, seems preferable.
18. He adds this lest they might think his DOCTRINE was changeable
like his purposes (the change in which he admitted in
while denying that it was due to "lightness," and at the same time
implying that not to have changed, where there was good reason,
would have been to imitate the fleshly-minded who at all costs
obstinately hold to their purpose).
our word--the doctrine we preach.
was not--The oldest manuscripts read "is not."
yea and nay--that is, inconsistent with itself.
19. Proof of the unchangeableness of the doctrine from the
unchangeableness of the subject of it, namely, Jesus Christ. He is
called "the Son of God" to show the impossibility of change in One who
is co-equal with God himself (compare
by me . . . Silvanus and Timotheus--The Son of God, though preached
by different preachers, was one and the same, unchangeable. Silvanus is contracted into
in him was yea--Greek, "is made yea in Him"; that is, our
preaching of the Son of God is confirmed as true in Him (that is,
through Him; through the miracles wherewith He has confirmed our
preaching) [GROTIUS]; or rather, by the witness of the Spirit which He
(2Co 1:21, 22)
and of which miracles were only one, and that a subordinate
20. Rather, How many soever be the promises of God, in Him is the "yea"
("faithfulness in His word": contrasted with the "yea and nay,"
that is, inconstancy as to one's word).
and in him Amen--The oldest manuscripts read, "Wherefore through Him is the Amen"; that is, In Him is faithfulness ("yea") to His
word, "wherefore through Him" is the immutable verification of it
("Amen"). As "yea" is His word, so "Amen" is His oath, which
makes our assurance of the fulfilment doubly sure. Compare "two
immutable things (namely, His word and His oath) in which it was
impossible for God to lie"
The whole range of Old Testament and New Testament promises are secure
in their fulfilment for us in Christ.
unto the glory of God by us--Greek, "for glory unto God by us"
that is, by our ministerial labors; by us His promises, and His
unchangeable faithfulness to them, are proclaimed. CONYBEARE takes the "Amen" to be the Amen at the close of
thanksgiving: but then "by us" would have to mean what it cannot mean
here, "by us and you."
21. stablisheth us . . . in Christ--that is, in the faith of Christ--in
believing in Christ.
anointed us--As "Christ" is the "Anointed" (which His name means), so
"He hath anointed (Greek, "chrisas") us," ministers and
believing people alike, with the Spirit
1Jo 2:20, 27).
Hence we become "a sweet savor of Christ"
22. sealed--A seal is a token assuring the possession of property
to one; "sealed" here answers to "stablisheth us"
the earnest of the Spirit--that is, the Spirit as the earnest (that is,
money given by a purchaser as a pledge for the full payment of the sum
promised). The Holy Spirit is given to the believer now as a first
instalment to assure him his full inheritance as a son of God shall be
(Eph 1:13, 14).
"Sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise which is the
earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased
The Spirit is the pledge of the fulfilment of "all the promises"
23. Moreover I--Greek, "But I (for my part)," in
contrast to GOD who hath assured us of His
promises being hereafter fulfilled certainly
call God--the all-knowing One, who avenges wilful unfaithfulness to
for a record upon my soul--As a witness as to the secret
purposes of my soul, and a witness against it, if I lie
to spare you--in order not to come in a rebuking spirit, as I should
have had to come to you, if I had come then.
I came not as yet--Greek, "no longer"; that is, I
gave up my purpose of then visiting Corinth. He wished to give them
time for repentance, that he might not have to use severity towards
them. Hence he sent Titus before him. Compare
2Co 10:10, 11,
which shows that his detractors represented him as threatening what he
had not courage to perform
(1Co 4:18, 19).
24. Not for that--that is, Not that. "Faith" is here emphatic. He
had "dominion" or a right to control them in matters of discipline, but in matters of "faith" he was only a "fellow helper of their
joy" (namely, in believing,
The Greek is, "Not that we lord it over your faith." This
he adds to soften the magisterial tone of
His desire is to cause them not sorrow
(2Co 2:1, 2),
but "joy." The Greek for "helpers" implies a mutual
leaning, one on the other, like the mutually supporting buttresses of a
sacred building. "By faith
ye stand"; therefore it is that I bestow such pains in "helping" your
faith, which is the source of all true "joy"
I want nothing more, not to lord it over your faith.