2 Corinthians 11
Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary - Alford
Would to God ye could bear with me a little in my folly: and indeed bear with me.
'11. His boasting of himself and

1-4.] apologetic introduction of it, by stating his motive,—viz. jealousy lest they should fall away from Christ.

1.] ἀνείχεσθε is the Hellenistic form,—ἠνείχ. the Attic, not ‘utinam tolerassetis,’ as Calv., al.: the imperfect is put after εἴθε, αἰ, ὄφελον, &c., ‘ubi optamus eam rerum conditionem, quam non esse sentimus:’ Klotz ad Devar. p. 516, cited by Meyer.

μου and ἀφροσύνης are not both genitives after μικρόν τι, as Meyer: nor is it so in the passage quoted by him, Job 6:26, LXX: οὐδὲ γὰρ ὑμῶν φθέγμα ῥήματος (φθέγματος ῥήματος ὑμῶν, Α) ἀνέξομαι. In both cases the personal pronoun is governed by the verb, as indeed here in ἀνέχεσθέ μου immediately following—and μικρόν τι ἀφροσύνης is the accusative of remote reference, as in the double accus. construction.

ἀλλὰ κ.] But (why need I request this? for (you really (see note, ch. 5:3) do bear with me. The indicative is much better than the imperative rendering (as Vulg., Beza, Calvin, Grot., Estius, Bengel, al.),—which, after ὄφελον ἀνείχ., is very flat, and gives no account of the καί. He says it, to shew them that he does not express the wish as supposing them void of tolerance for his weakness, but as having experienced some at their hands, and now requiring more.

2.] ‘That forbearance which you do really extend to me, and for more of which I now pray, is due from you, and I claim to have it exercised by you, because I have undertaken to present you to Christ as a chaste bride to her husband, and (ver. 3) I am jealous for fear of your falling away from Him.’

θεοῦ ζήλῳ] so εἰλικρινείᾳ τοῦ θεοῦ, ch. 1:12: a godly jealousy: see note there. Meyer after Chrys., Estius, al., would render it, ‘with God’s jealousy,’ ‘with such a jealousy as God has.’ But though θεοῦ ζήλῳ and τῷ τοῦ θεοῦ ζήλῳ are for most purposes identical, I cannot but think that the latter expression would have been chosen to express such an idea as ‘with the zeal which God has.’ And the rendering, ‘with a godly zeal,’ i.e. one which has God’s honour at heart, satisfies well what follows: see below.

ἡρμοσάμην] I betrothed you (viz. at your conversion: προμνήστωρ ὑμῶν ἐγενόμην καὶ τοῦ γάμου μεσίτης, Theodoret. Ordinarily, the father, or the bridesman (παρανύμφιος) is said ἁρμόζειν: the middle voice is used of the bridegroom only. So among other examples in Wetst.,—εἶχεν ἐν δόμοις Αἴγισθος, οὐδʼ ἥρμοζε νυμφίῳ τινί, Eur. Electr. 24,—and ἁρμοσαμένου Λευτυχίδεω Πέρκαλον τὴν Χίλωνος θυγατέρα, καὶ σχὼν γυναῖκα …, Herod, vi. 65. But in Philo we have γάμος ὃν ἁρμόζεται ἡδονή, ed Abr. § 20, vol. ii. p. 15) to one husband, to present (i.e. in order that I may present in you [, present you as]) a chaste virgin to Christ (viz. at His coming: ὁ μὲν οὖν παρὼν καιρὸς μνηστείας ἐστίν· ὁ δὲ μέλλων τῶν γάμων, ὅτε κραυγὴ γίνεται, ἰδοὺ ὁ νυμφίος. Theophyl.) τῷ χρ. is not in constructive apposition with ἑνὶ ἀνδρί, but explains and fixes it: the emphasis being on παρθένον ἁγνήν.

3.] But he fears their being seduced from their fidelity to Christ.

ὁ ὄφις] He takes for granted that the Corinthians recognized the agency of Satan in the (well-known) serpent: see vv. 13-15, where his μετασχηματισμός for the sake of deceit is alluded to.

ἐν τῇ παν. αὐτοῦ] in (i.e. by means of, as the element in which the deed was done) his versatility (or subtlety),—so (οὕτω has been a gloss from the margin) your thoughts (‘sentiments,’ ref. and ch. 10:5) be corrupted from (pregnant construction, = be corrupted, and seduced from) your simplicity (singleness of affection) and your chastity towards Christ (εἰς χρ. is not = ἐν χριστῷ, as Vulg., E. V., Beza, Calvin, al.).

4, 5.] The thought here seems to be this:—‘If these new teachers had brought with them a new Gospel, superseding that which I preached, they might have some claim to your regard. But, since there is but one gospel, that which I preached to you, and which they pretend to preach also, I submit that in that one no claim to regard is prior to mine.’ Observe, that the whole hypothesis is ironical: it is fixed and clear that there can be no such new gospel: therefore the inference is the stronger. For (the whole sentence is steeped in irony:—‘the serpent deceived Eve by subtlety: I fear for you, but not because the new teachers use such subtlety—if they did, if the temptation were really formidable, there would be some excuse.’ All this lies in the γάρ) if indeed (εἰ μέν introduces a reality, and is full here of deep irony. Cf. Il. α. 135, ἀλλʼ εἰ μὲν δώσουσι γέρας μεγάθυμοι Ἀχαιοί: ‘if the Achæans shall really give me another gift;’ and μ. 138-142, εἰ μὲν δὴ Ἀντιμάχοιο δαΐφρονος υἱέες ἐστὸν … νῦν μὲν δὴ τοῦ πατρὸς ἀεικέα τίσετε λώβην …, ‘if ye really are, &c., … ye verily will’.… See Hartung, Partikellehre, ii. 414) he that cometh (viz. the false teachers generically thus designated: but here too perhaps there is irony: ὁ ἐρχόμενος was a ῥῆμα σεμνόν) is preaching (the indicative pres. carries on the ironical assumption, so λαμβ. below) another Jesus whom we preached not, or ye are receiving a different Spirit (ἄλλος, distinctive of individuality, ἕτερος of kind), which ye received not (from us), or another gospel which ye accepted not (ἐλάβ., ἐδέξ.,—‘verba diversa, rei apta. Non concurrit voluntas hominis in accipiendo Spiritu, ut in recipiendo evangelio.’ Bengel. But singularly enough, in English, usage has attached the voluntary act to the verb ‘accept’) ye with reason bear with him (irony again: for they not only bore with, but preferred them to their father in the faith. The sense is: “there seems to be some excuse in that case,—but even in that, really there is none,—for your tolerating him.” On the rec., Bengel remarks: ‘Ponit conditionem, ex parte rei, impossibilem: ideo dicit in imperfecto, toleraretis: sed pro conatu pseudapostolorum, non modo possibilem, sed plane præsentem: ideo dicit in præsenti, prædicat.’ Similarly Meyer. See Winer, edn. 6, § 42. 2. That the rendering above given is right, seems to me beyond question. It is the only one which reaches the depth of the exquisite irony of the sentence, at the same time that it satisfies all grammatical requirements.

5.] See above. ‘Seeing that there is but one gospel, and they and I profess to preach one Jesus and impart one Spirit, they have no such claim: mine is superior’): for I reckon that in no respect do I fall short of (the perf. sets forth the past and present truth of the fact) these overmuch Apostles.

τῶν ὑπερλίαν ἀποστ. has very commonly been taken to mean bona fide ‘the greatest Apostles,’ i.e. Peter, James, and John, or perhaps the Twelve: but (1) this hardly seems to suit the expression ὑπερλίαν, in which I cannot help seeing, with De W., some bitterness: (2) it would be alien from the spirit of the passage, in which he institutes no comparison whatever between himself and the other Apostles, but only between himself and the false teachers. (3) had any such comparison been here intended, the ‘punctum comparationis’ would not have been, personal eminence in fruits of apostolic work and sufferings, still less, seeing that the other Apostles were unlearned also, the distinction which immediately follows, between an ἰδιώτης, and one pretending to more skill,—but priority of arrival and teaching in Corinth. (4) the expression ψευδαπόστολος ver. 13, seems to me to refer to, and give the plain sense of, this ironical designation of ὑπερλίαν ἀπόστολοι. (5) the same expression ch. 12:11 appears even more plainly than here to require this explanation. The above explanation is that of Beza, Michaelis, Schulz, Fritzsche, Billroth, Rückert, Olsh., Meyer, De Wette.

ὑπερλίαν is not found in classic Greek: but Wetstein cites from Od. α. p. 27, 35: ἔστι γάρ ποτε καὶ τῷ λίαν κατὰ τὴν τραγῳδίαν χρᾶσθαι καλῶς, καθʼ ὃ σημαινόμενον λέγομέν τινα ὑπερλίαν σοφόν. Meyer instances as analogous, ὑπεράγαν (2 Macc. 10:34), ὑπέρευ (ὑπέρευ πεπολίτευμαι, Demosth. 228. 17), and the frequent use by Paul of compounds of ὑπέρ. It has been the practice of Protestant Commentators (e.g. Bengel, Macknight) to adduce this verse against the primacy of Peter, and of the Romanists (e.g. Corn.-a-Lapide) to evade the inference by supposing the pre-eminence to be only in gifts and preaching, not in power and jurisdiction. All this will fall to the ground with the supposed reference to the other Apostles.

6.] Explains that, though in one particular he may fall short of them, viz. in rhetorical finish and word-wisdom, yet in real knowledge, not so.

ἰδιώτης] a laic,—a man not professionally acquainted with that which he undertakes, see reff. The Apostle disclaims mere rhetorical aptitude and power in 1Corinthians 2:1 ff.

ἀλλά brings out the contrast, see reff.:—εἴ τοι σύ γε σεωϋτοῦ μὴ προορᾷς, ἀλλʼ ἡμῖν τοῦτό ἐστι οὐ περιοπτέον, Herod. v. 39.

τῇ γνώσει] the depth of his knowledge of the mystery of the gospel, see Ephesians 3:1-4.

ἀλλʼ ἐν παντί] But in every matter we made things manifest (i.e. the things of the gospel, thereby shewing our γνῶσις;—not, τὴν γνῶσιν. Meyer and De W. suppose φανερώσαντες to have been a gloss for φανερωθέντες, especially as it is followed in some mss. by ἑαυτούς, and to have been the more readily received into the text, because it might easily be taken with γνῶσιν. But how improbable that the easy φανερωθέντες should have been replaced by the harsh -σαντες. Much rather would the latter be replaced by φανερωθέντες from ch. 5:11) before all men (ἐν πᾶσιν, being separated from ἐν παντί by the verb, cannot be coupled with it, as in ref. Phil., but must mean among all) unto you (i.e. with a view to your benefit: not = ‘to you,’ in which sense the dative is always found after φανερόω: see Romans 3:21, πεφανέρωται … εἰς πάντας κ. ἐπὶ πάντας.…).

7.] Another particular in which he was not behind, but excelled, the ὑπερλίαν ἀπόστολοι viz. the gratuitous exercise of his ministry among them. On the sense, see 1Corinthians 9:1 ff. and notes. The supposition is one of sharp irony.

ἐμ. ταπεινῶν] See Acts 18:3. The exaltation which they received by his demeaning himself was that of reception into the blessings of the gospel, which was more effectually wrought thereby: not merely, their being thus more favoured temporarily, or in comparison with other churches.

ὅτι δωρ., &., is epexegetical of ἐμαυτὸν ταπεινῶν;—in that I gratuitously, &c.:—not, as Meyer, ἁμαρτ. ἐποίησα ὅτι, making ἐμαυτὸν … ὑψωθ. parenthetical. It was his wish to preach to them gratuitously, which necessitated his ταπεινοῦν ἑαυτόν, i.e. not exercising the apostolic power which he might have exercised, but living on subsidies from others, besides (which he does not here distinctly allude to) his working with his own hands at Corinth. See Stanley.

8.] The ‘other churches’ were the Macedonian, cf. ver. 9. Among them the Philippians were probably conspicuous, retaining as doubtless they did, their former affection to him; see Philippians 4:15, Philippians 4:16.

ἐσύλησα is hyperbolic, to bring out the contrast, and shame them.

ὀψ., See reff., wages; more properly here subsidy.

πρὸς τ. ὑμ. διακ.] in order to (to support me in) my ministration to you, gen. obj.

ἄλλας and ὑμῶν stand in the emphatic positions, as contrasted. In the former sentence, he implied that he brought with him from Macedonia supplies towards his maintenance at Corinth: λαβὼν … πρὸς τ. ὑμ. διακ.: here, he speaks of a new supply during his residence with the Corinthians, when those resources failed.

κατενάρκησα] apparently = κατεβάρησα, ch. 12:16. interprets it ἐβάρυνα. Jerome, Ep. cxxi. (cli.) ad Algasiam, quæst. 10, vol. i. p. 879, says, ‘multa sunt verba, quibus juxta morem urbis et provinciæ suæ familiarius Apostolus utitur: e quibus ex. gr. pauca ponenda sunt … Et, οὐ κατενάρκησα ὑμᾶς, hoc est, non gravavi vos … quibus et aliis multis usque hodie utuntur Cilices.’ Theophylact and Œcum. mention a rendering, οὐκ ἠμέλησα, ἢ ῥᾳθυμοτέρως πρὸς τὸ κήρυγμα γέγονα: and Beza, following the etymology; interprets οὐκ ἐνάρκησα κατʼ οὐδενός, ‘cum cujusquam incommodo.’ But the former meaning suits the context better. The word is found no where else in Greek. ἀποναρκάω occurs in Plutarch, de Liber. Educatione, p. 8, f (Wetst.), ἀποναρκῶσι κ. φρίττουσι πρὸς τοὺς πόνους. On the government of the genitive by verbs compounded with κατά, see Matthiæ, § 376.

9.] For (reason why he burdened no one) the brethren (who, he does not say: their names were well known to the Corinthians. Possibly, Timotheus and Silas, Acts 18:5) when they came from Macedonia (not as E. V., ‘which came,’ οἱ ἐλθόντες) brought a fresh supply of my want (or perhaps προσαν. is used without the idea of additional supply, as in ch. 9:12, the πρός merely denoting direction): and in every thing I kept myself (‘during my residence:’ not, ‘have kept myself,’ as E. V.) unburdensome to you, and will keep myself.

10.] The truth of Christ is in me, that …; i.e. ‘I speak according to that truth of which Christ Himself was our example, when I say, that …;’—there is no oath, nor even asseveration, as E. V. and most Commentators introduce. The expression is exactly analogous to Romans 9:1.

ἡ καύχ.…] this boasting (not = καύχημα, here or any where else) shall not be stopped (supply τὸ στόμα, which is not expressed, because καύχησις being itself a matter of utterance, suits the sense of the verb without it) as regards (or against) me (καύχ. is as it were personified—shall not have its mouth stopped as regards me) in the regions of Achaia (where the καύχησις is imagined as being and speaking).

11.] He presupposes, and negatives, a reason likely to be given for this resolution; viz. that he loves them not, and therefore will be under no obligation to them: for we willingly incur obligations to those whom we love.

οἶδεν, scil. ὅτι ὑμᾶς ἀγαπῶ.

12.] The true reason:—But that which I do, I will also continue to do (καὶ ποιήσω must not, as Erasm., be coupled to ποιῶ, and διὰ τοῦτο ποιῶ supplied before ἵνα,—because it is for his resolution respecting the future that the reason is especially given) in order that I may cut off the occasion (τήν, which would be furnished if I did not so) of those who wish for an occasion (viz. of depreciating me by misrepresenting my motives if I took money of you). Many (Chrys., Theophyl., Calv., Grot., Billroth, al.) take this occasion to be one of aggrandizing themselves above Paul if all took money, assuming that the false teachers, as well as Paul, took none: which is extremely unlikely, from the prominence which he gives to the boast of his own abstinence in this point,—and seems directly opposed to ver. 20 and to 1Corinthians 9:12.

ἵνα ἐν ᾧ κ.τ.λ.] that, in the matter of which they boast, they may be found even as we. Such appears generally acknowledged to be the rendering; but as to the meaning, there is great variety of opinion. (1) Many of the ancient Commentators assume that they taught gratis, and were proud of it,—and that Paul would also teach gratis, to put both on an equality and take this occasion of boasting from them. This would suit the sense of the present verse, but seems (see above) at variance with the fact. (2) Theodoret, whom Meyer, al., follow, supposes them to have pretended to the credit of self-denial, while really making gain, and that Paul means, that he will reduce them from pretended to real self-denial. But this too is inconsistent with the context. Paul’s boast of disinterested teaching was peculiarly his own, and there is nothing to shew that the false teachers ever professed or made any boast of the like. His resolution did not spring out of an actual comparison instituted by them between their own practice and what they might falsely allege to be his, but was adopted even before his coming to Corinth, arguing a priori that it was best to cut off any possible occasion of such depreciation of him from his probable adversaries. (3) Others, Cajetan, Estius, after de Serm. Dom. in Monte ii. 16 (54), vol. iii. p. 1292,—also Bengel,—join ἵνα … ἡμεῖς with ἀφορμήν,—‘occasion that they may be found even as we,’ and explain ἐν ᾧ καυχ. as a parenthesis, ‘that they may be found (a point in which they boast) even as we:’ i.e. ‘that in point of selfishness and covetousness, we may be both on a level.’ But this meaning would require rather εὑρεθῶμεν καθὼς καὶ αὐτοί, ‘we may be reduced to their level.’ (4) Olsh., adopting in the main the last interpretation, would understand ἐν ᾧ καυχῶνται of the taking of money of which they boasted, accounting it an apostolic prerogative. But to this the last stated objection applies even more forcibly: and besides, the suppesition is wholly arbitrary. (5) De Wette, believing the second ἵνα to be parallel with the first, as in (1) and (2), understands ἐν ᾧ καυχῶνται as applying to their boast of apostolic efficiency: ‘that they may, in their apostolic work which they vaunt with such pretension, be found even as we,’ and thinks, the transition to what follows thus made easy. But the objection to this is, that the punctum comparationis in the rest of the chapter is not apostolic efficiency, but rather matters κατὰ σάρκα. (6) I cannot adopt any one of the above accounts of the sentence, for the negative reasons already given, and because all of them seem to me to have missed the clue to the meaning which the chapter itself furnishes. This clue I find in vv. 18 ff. The καυχῶνται is there taken up, described as being κατὰ σάρκα: the καθὼς καὶ ἡμεῖς is taken up by Ἐβραῖοί εἰσιν; κἀγώ· &c. From this it is manifest to me, that his meaning in our present clause is, ‘that in the matter(s) of which they boast they may be found even as we;’ i.e. ‘we may be on a fair and equal footing:’ ‘that there may be no adventitious comparisons made between us arising out of misrepresentations of my course of procedure among you, but that in every matter of boasting, we may be fairly compared and judged by facts.’ And then, before the γάρ of ver. 13 will naturally be supplied, ‘And this will end in their discomfiture: for realities they have none, no weapons but misrepresentation, being false Apostles,’ &c.

13.] For (see above: the γάρ implying also that the choice of the above line of conduct has been made in a conviction of their falsehood and its efficacy to detect it) such men are false Apostles (not, as Vulg. and most expositors, ‘such false Apostles are ἐργ. δόλ.,’ which destroys the whole emphasis of the sentence, wherein the ὑπερλίαν ἀπόστολοι of ver. 5 are pronounced now to be ψευδαπόστολοι: and besides, suggests an irrelevant comparison between οἱ τοιοῦτοι ψ. and ψ. of some other kind.

On the sense, see Revelation 2:2.

ὁ τοιοῦτος is a familiar designation with the Apostle, see reff.),—dishonest workmen (in that they pretend to be teachers of the Gospel, and are in the mean time subserving their own ends),—changing themselves into (in appearance: the pres. participle indicates their habit and continual endeavours to assume the shape) Apostles of Christ. By a fair comparison between us, this mask will be stript off;—by the abundance of my sufferings, and distinctions vouchsafed by the Lord, my Apostolicity will be fully proved, and their Pseudapostolism shewn.

14, 15.] οὐ θαῦμα—so Aristoph. Plut. 99, καὶ θαῦμά γʼ οὐδέν, οὐδʼ ἐγὼ γὰρ ὁ βλέπων.

αὐτὸς γὰρ ὁ σ.] If any definite allusion is here intended, it is perhaps to Job 1:6, &c.: but I would rather suppose the practice of Satan in tempting and seducing men to be intended.

14. ἄγγ. φωτός] God is light, and inhabits light, and His angelic attendants are surrounded with brightness, see Acts 12:7; Psalm 104:4: whereas Satan is the Power of darkness, see reff. and Luke 22:53.

15.] εἰ καί, if also, i.e. as well as himself, or perhaps better applying to the whole sentence, if, also …

μετασχ. ὡς, i.e. μετασχ. καὶ γίνονται ὡς:—so Romans 9:29, ὡς Γόμοῤῥα ἂν ὡμοιώθημεν.

αὐτός, the father of falsehood and wrong (John 8:44), is directly opposed to δικαιοσύνη θεοῦ, Matthew 6:33, that manifestation of God by which He is known to us in the Gospel, Romans 1:17.

ὧν τὸ τέλ.] Of whom (notwithstanding this disguise) the end shall be correspondent to their works (not to their pretensions).

16-21.] Excuses for his intended self-boasting.

16.] πάλιν—referring to ver. 1, not repeating what he had there said, but again taking up the subject, and expanding that request. The ἀνέχομαι of ver. 1 in fact implies both requests of this verse:—the not regarding him as a fool for boasting, or even if they did (εἰ δὲ μήγε after a negative sentence implies ‘but if it cannot be so,’ ‘if you will not grant this,’ see reff.

κἄν elliptical: the full construction would be κἂν ὡς ἄφρονα δέξασθαι δέῃ, δέξασθέ με: so in reff.) as a fool (i.e. yielding to me the toleration and hearing which men would not refuse even to one of whose folly they were convinced) receiving him.

κἀγώ, as well as they.

17.] Proceeding on the ὡς ἄφρονα, he disclaims for this self-boasting the character of inspiration—or of being said in pursuance of his mission from the Lord.

κατὰ κύρ.] as in reff., after the (mind of the) Lord, in pursuance, i.e. in this case, of θεοπνευστία from above: not as in 1Corinthians 7:10, 1Corinthians 7:25, 1Corinthians 7:40.

ὡς ἐν ἀφρ.] as it were in folly, i.e. ‘putting myself into the situation, and speaking the words of a foolish man vaunting of himself.’

ὑποστάσει, as ch. 9:4, in this present confidence, not as Chrys. ‘subject,’—‘this subject of boasting,’ ἵνα μὴ νομίσῃς πανταχοῦ ἀνοηταίνειν αὐτόν, (Hom. xxiv. p. 607)—and so al.: but the sense would be insipid in the last degree: nor could such a meaning well be expressed without γε,—ἐν ταύτῃ γε τῇ ὑπ. De Wette also renders ὑπ. ‘subject-matter,’ and understands, ‘since we are come to boasting;’ but here again γε would be more naturally found. He objects to ‘confidence,’ that the boasting was not begun: but as Meyer replies, it is conceived of as having begun in Paul’s mind, by the use of the present λαλῶ, I am speaking.

18.] Since many (viz. the false teachers, but not only they:—‘since it is a common habit,’—for he is here speaking as εἷς τῶν ἀφρόνων, see Job 2:10) boast according to the flesh (not = ἐν σαρκί, as Chrys., al., but ‘in a spirit of fleshly regard,’—‘having regard to their extraction, achievements, &c.’ as below vv. 22 ff.), I also will boast (scil. κατὰ τὴν σάρκα. Rückert thinks these words are omitted purposely, thereby to imply that tbe Apostle’s boasting was not fleshly; but this is distinctly contradicted by the context: he is speaking as one of the πολλοί, of οἱ ἄφρονες, see next verse).

19.] Bitterly ironical. They were φρόνιμοι—as 1Corinthians 4:8, κεκορεσμένοι—so full of wisdom as to be able to tolerate complacently, looking down from the ‘sapientum templa serena,’ the follies of others. This, forsooth, encourages him to hope for their forbearance and patronage. Compare the earnestness of 1Corinthians 3:1-4. And the irony does not stop here: it is not only matter of presumption that they would tolerate fools with complacency, but the matter of fact testified it: they were doing this: and more.

20.] for (proof that they could have no objection to so innocent a man as a fool, when they tolerated such noxious ones as are adduced) ye endure (them), if (as is the case) one brings you into slavery (the mere abstract act as regarded them, not the man’s own selfish view, being in the Apostle’s mind, the active, not the middle, is used. Thucyd. iii. 70, uses the active similarly: λέγοντες τοὺς Ἀθηναίους τὴν Κέρκυραν καταδουλοῦν. But the enslaving understood, is to the man himself, not to the law:—see ref. Gal.), if one devours you (by exaction on your property, see reff. Mk. L. So Hom. Od. γ. 315: μή τοι κατὰ πάντα φάγωσι κτήματα, and Plaut., Ter., and Quintil., in Wetstein), if one catches you (as with a snare, ref.: not, ‘takes from you’), if one uplifts himself (so freq. in Thucyd., e.g. vi. 11, χρὴ μὴ πρὸς τὰς τύχας τῶν ἐναντίων ἐπαίρεσθαι. See other examples in Wetst.), if one smites you on the face (in insult, see 1Kings 22:24: Matthew 5:39; Luke 22:64; Acts 23:2. This is put as the climax of forbearance. “That such violence might literally be expected from the rulers of the early Christian society, is also implied in the command in 1Timothy 3:3, Titus 1:7, that the ‘bishop’ is not to be ‘a striker.’ Even so late as the seventh century the council of Braga (c. 7), a.d. 675, orders that no bishop at his will and pleasure shall strike his clergy, lest he lose the respect which they owe him.” Stanley).

21.] By way of disparagement (κατʼ ἀτιμ.,—so κατὰ ληΐην ἐκπλώσαντες, Herod, ii. 152; κατὰ θέαν ἧκεν, Thucyd. vi. 31) I assume that (ὡς ὅτι, see ch. 5:19, note,—does not positively state a fact, but assumes one, or states the import of a saying) we (emphatic) were weak (when we were among you). An ironical reminiscence of his own abstinence when among them from all these acts of self-exaltation at their expense, q. d. (ironically), ‘I feel that I am much letting myself down by the confession that I was too weak ever to do any of these things among you.’ This I believe with Schrader, De Wette, and Meyer, to be the only satisfactory rendering. See also Stanley. Most expositors (1) refer λέγω back to ver. 20, ‘I say it’—‘I speak,’ as E. V. So Chrys., Theophyl., Theodoret, Pelag., Erasm., Calv., al. (Chrys. remarks on ὡς ὅτι,—ἀσαφὲς τὸ εἰρημένον. ἐπειδὴ γὰρ φορτικὸν ἦν, διὰ τοῦτο οὕτως αὐτὸ τέθεικεν, ἵνα κλέψῃ τὴν ἐπάχθειαν τῇ ἀσαφείᾳ,. p. 609), and (2) understand κατὰ ἀτιμ, ‘to your shame,’ and (3) ὡς ὅτι, ‘as though.’ But (1) can hardly be, seeing that λέγω below and λαλῶ ver. 23 have a forward reference: (2) would require ὑμῶν, and even then would be exceedingly harsh,—cf. the similar meaning 1Corinthians 15:34, where we have πρὸς ἐντροπὴν ὑμῖν λαλῶ: and (3) it may be doubted whether ὡς ὅτι ever can mean ‘as though,’ even in ref. 2 Thess., where Winer. edn, 6, § 65. 9 (see German edn.), renders it by mie baß: it is pleonastic, answering to our expression ‘how that’—‘I told him, how that’ … Winer, in a former edition, instances the use of wie daß in a somewhat similar way: wie daß ich gehort habe, … where either wie or daß would be enough. Besides the instances given on ch. 5:19, Meyer quotes from Dion. Hal. ix. (with no further ref.) ἐπιγνούς, ὡς ὅτι ἐν ἐσχάτοις εἰσὶν οἱ κατακλεισθέντες.

ἐν ᾧ δʼ ἄν] But in whatsoever matter any one (the τις of ver. 20) is bold (the ἄν signifies habit, recurrence: so Soph. Philoct. 290, ταῦτʼ ἂν ἐξέρπων τάλας ἐμηχανώμην· εἶτα πῦρ ἂν οὐ παρῆν, and Eur. Phœn. 412, ποτὲ μὲν ἐπʼ ἦμαρ εἶχον, εἶτʼ οὐκ εἶχον ἄν where see Porson). Throughout this passage, compare by all means Stanley’s interesting notes.

ἐν ἀφρ.] see ver. 17.

22.] “The three honourable appellations with which the adversaries magnified themselves,—resting on their Jewish extraction, are arranged so as to form a climax: so that Ἑβραῖοι refers to the nationality,—Ἰσραηλῖται to the theocracy (Romans 9:4 ff.), and σπέρμα Ἀβρ to the claim to a part in the Messiah (Romans 9:7; Romans 11:1, al.).” Meyer. The interrogative form of the sentence is much more lively and consistent with the spirit of the context than the affirmative, as given by Erasm., Luther, Estius, al.

23.] Meyer remarks, that all three points of Judaistic comparison, of so little real consequence in the matter, were dismissed with the short and contemptuous κἀγώ,—‘that am I too.’ But that is not enough, now that we are come to the great point ot comparison; the consciousness of his real standing, and their nullity as ministers of Christ requires the ὑπὲρ ἐγώ, and the holy earnestness of this consciousness pours itself forth as a stream over the adversaries, so as to overwhelm their conceited aspirations to apostolic dignity.

παραφρ. λ.] stronger than ἐν ἀφρος. λέγω:—I say it as a madman. Hardly, as Meyer, spoken from a consciousness of the verdict παραφρονεῖ which the opponents would pronounce on this ὑπὲρ ἐγώ,—but rather, as De W., from a deep sense of his own unworthiness, and conscious how utterly untrue was ὑπὲρ ἐγώ, in any boasting sense. He therefore repudiates it even more strongly than the τολμῶ κἀγώ.

ὑπὲρ ἐγώ must not be misunderstood. He concedes to them their being διάκ. χρ., and assumes (παραφρονῶν) for himself, something more, if more abundant labours and sufferings are to be any criterion of the matter. That this is the sense is obvious from the comparison being in the amount of labours and sufferings,—and not (as Meyer), that he denies to them the διάκ. χρ. and merely puts it hypothetically. ‘Well, then, if they are to be considered διάκ. χρ., I must be something more.’ If so, the comparison would be not in the degree of ministerial self-sacrifice, but in the credentials of the ministry itself. Both are now assumed to be ministers: but if so, Paul is a minister in a much higher degree, more faithful, more self-denying, richer in gifts and divine tokens, than they. The preposition is used adverbially, see reff.

ἐν κόποις περισ.] By (the ἐν is instrumental [in (the matter of) or, by (virtue of)]:—the direct dative is adopted ver. 26:—these facts are proofs of the ὑπὲρ ἐγώ,—not as Estius, al., parallel with it, which would only apply to the comparatives and not to ἐν θανάτοις πολλάκις) labours (occurring) more abundantly (the adverbs belong to the substantives in each case and are used adjectively; so τὴν ἐμὴν ἀναστροφήν ποτε, Galatians 1:13: τῆς ἐμῆς παρουσίας πάλιν, Philippians 1:26),—by prisons (imprisonments) more abundantly (but one such is mentioned in the Acts (16:23 ff.) previous to the writing of this Epistle.

Clement, in the celebrated passage of his 1st Epistle to the Corinthians (c. v. p. 220) on the labours of Paul, describes him as ἑπτάκις δεσμὰ φορέσας. This whole catalogue should shew the chronologists of the Apostle’s life and epistles how exceedingly unsafe it is to build only on the history in the Acts for a complete account of his journeys and voyages), by stripes more exceedingly (particularized below), by deaths often (see reff. and ch. 4:10. Such was the danger escaped at Damascus, Acts 9:23, at Antioch in Pisidia, 13:50, at Iconium, 14:5, 6, at Lystra, ib. 19, at Philippi, 16, at Thessalonica, 17:5 f., at Berœa, ib. 13, and doubtless many others of which we know nothing. See below).

24, 25.] are parenthetical, explaining some of the foregoing expressions: the construction is resumed, ver. 26.

At the hands of the Jews five times received I forty save one (in Deuteronomy 25:3, it is prescribed that not more than forty stripes should be given, ‘lest thy brother should seem vile unto thee.’ For fear of exceeding this number, they kept within it. This seems a more likely account of the thirty-nine stripes than that given by Wetst.,—that thirteen were inflicted on the breast, and the same number on each shoulder, and the fortieth omitted, lest one part of the body should receive more than another. See the Rabbinical authorities in Wetst., and cf. Joseph. Antt. iv. 8. 21 and 23, and Stanley’s note here. He calls it τιμωρία αἰσχίστη: and Meyer remarks that Paul might well number it among the θάνατοι, for it was no rare occurrence for the criminal to die under its infliction.

None of these scourgings are mentioned in the Acts),—thrice was I beaten with rods (scil. by the Roman magistrates, see Acts 16:22, Acts 16:23, which is the only occasion mentioned in the Acts), once was I stoned (Acts 14:19), thrice I suffered shipwreck (not one of these shipwrecks is known to us. Thus we see that perhaps three, perhaps two, voyages of Paul, but certainly one,—previous to this time, must be somewhere inserted in the history of the Acts: see Prolegg. ch. 3 § v. 5), a night and day have I spent (reff.) in the deep (i.e. the sea: probably on some remnant of a wreck after one of his shipwrecks alone or with others. To understand ὁ βυθός, as Thl. (τινὲς δέ φασιν ἔν τινι φρέατι μετὰ τὸνἐν Λύστροις κίνδυνον κατακρυφθείς, βύθῳ λεγομένῳ, νῦν τοῦτο λέγει), seems to be taking it out of its connexion here. Wetst. gives from. Ælian, H. An. viii. 7, ἀθέατον νήχεσθαι ἐν βυθῷ. Still less must we think of the characteristic interpretation of Estius: “Subjunxit aliud periculum marinum longe gravius, nempe quod demersus fuerit ex naufragio in profundum maris, ubi tamen divina ope fuerit servatus incolumis noctem et diem, atque inde postea liberatus”).

26.] The construction is resumed from ver. 23, but now with the instrumental dative without the preposition.

By journeys frequently, by perils of rivers (the genitives denote the material of the perils; rivers and robbers being the things and persons actually attacking. Winer, edn. 6, § 30. 2 [α], renders it perils on rivers, justifying it by κ. ἐν πόλει: but in my view a distinction is pointed out by the variety of construction. Wetst. quotes κινδ. θαλασσῶν from Heliod. ii. 4. The ‘perils of rivers’ might arise from crossing or fording, or from floods. The crossing of the rocky and irregular torrents in Alpine districts is to this day attended with danger, which must have been much more frequent when bridges were comparatively rare. And this is the case with a road, among others, frequently traversed by Paul, that between Jerusalem and Antioch, crossed as it is by the torrents from the sides of Lebanon. Maundrell says that the traveller Spon lost his life in one of those torrents: see Conybeare and Howson, edn. 2, vol. i. p. 502, note: and Stanley in loc.), by perils of robbers (see note on Acts 13:14), by perils from my kindred (the Jewish nation, ἐκ, arising from: they not being always the direct agents,—but, as in many cases in the Acts, setting on others or plotting secretly: or γένους,—and ἐθν. below,—imports generically the source, or quarter whence the danger arose), by perils from the Gentiles (not merely “from Gentiles,” as Stanley: this would be ἐξ ἐθνικῶν. The art. is omitted after the preposition, the word being thus categorized in Greek; but it must be supplied in our English idiom), by perils in the city (in Damascus, Acts 9:23 f.,—Jerusalem, ib. 29,—Ephesus 19:23 ff., and many other places), by perils in the desert (the actual desert? or merely the solitude of journeys as contrasted with ‘the city?’ but any how, not ‘in solitude:’ the art. must be supplied as in ἐν πόλει), by perils in the sea (not, as De W., a repetition from ver. 25: there are many perils in the sea short of shipwrecks), by perils among false brethren (who were these? Grot., al., suppose, ‘qui Christianos se Simulabant, ut res Christianorum perdiscerent, deinde eos proderent,’—and so apparently Chrys., &c. But Paul’s use of this compound leads us rather to persons who bona fide wished to be thought ἀδελφοί, but were not, scil. in heart and conduct, and were opponents of himself personally, rather than designed traitors to the Christian cause. Cf. ψευδαπόστολοι above, ver. 13

Henry Alford - Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary

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