Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, unto the church of God which is at Corinth, with all the saints which are in all Achaia:
Verse 1. - By the will of God (see 1 Corinthians 1:1). In the face of Judaizing opponents, it was essential that he should vindicate his independent apostolate (Acts 26:15-18). And Timothy. Timothy had been absent from St. Paul when he wrote the First Epistle, and Sosthenes had taken his place, whether as amanuensis or merely as a sort of joint authenticator. Our brother; literally, the brother, as in 1 Corinthians 1:1. The brotherhood applies both to St. Paul and to the Corinthians; there was a special bond of brotherhood between all members of "the household of faith." The saints. Before the name "Christians" had come into general use, "saints" (Acts 9:13) and "brethren" were common designations or' those who were "faithful in Christ Jesus" (Ephesians 1:1). In all Achaia. In its classical sense Achaia means only the northern strip of the Peloponnesus; as a Roman province the name included both Hellas and the Peloponnesus. Hero St. Paul probably uses it in its narrower sense. The only strictly Achaian Church of which we know is Cenchrea, but doubtless there were little Christian communities along the coasts of the Corinthian gulf. To the Church at Athens St. Paul never directly alludes. This letter was not in any sense an encyclical letter; but even if it were not read in other communities, the Corinthians would convey to them the apostle's greeting.
Grace be to you and peace from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
Verse 2. - Grace be to you and peace. On this pregnant synthesis of the Greek and Hebrew greetings, see 1 Corinthians 1:3; Romans 1:7.
Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort;
Verse 3. - Blessed be God (Ephesians 1:3). This outburst of thanksgiving was meant to repress the relief brought to the overcharged feelings of the apostle by the arrival of Titus, with news respecting the mixed, but on the whole good, effect produced at Corinth by the severe remarks of his first letter. It is characteristic of the intense and impetuous rush of emotion which we often notice in the letters of St. Paul, that he does not here state the special grounds for this impassioned thanksgiving; he only touches upon it for a moment in 2 Corinthians 2:13, and does not pause to state it fully until 2 Corinthians 7:5-16. It is further remarkable that in this Epistle almost alone he utters no thanksgiving for the moral growth and holiness of the Church to which he is writing. This may be due to the fact that there was still so much to blame; but it more probably arose from the tumult of feeling which throughout this letter disturbs the regular flow of his thoughts. The ordinary "thanksgiving" for his readers is practically, though indirectly, involved in the gratitude which he expresses to God for the sympathy and communion which exists between himself and the Church of Corinth. Even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. The Greek is the same as in Ephesians 1:3, where, literally rendered, it is, "Blessed be the God and Father." The same phrase is found also in 1 Peter 1:3; Colossians 1:3. The meaning is not, "Blessed be the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ" (although the expression, "the God of our Lord Jesus Christ," occurs in Ephesians 1:17: comp. John 20:17), but "Blessed be God, who is also the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ," and who is therefore "our Father" by adoption and redemption, as well as our God by creation. The Father of mercies. This corresponds to a Hebrew expression, and means that compassionateness is the most characteristic attribute of God, and emanation from him. He is the Source of all mercy; and mercy
"Is an attribute of God himself." He is "full of compassion, and gracious, tong-suffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth" (Psalm 86:15). "The Law," says the Talmud, "begins and ends with an act of mercy. At its commencement God clothes the naked; at its close be buries the dead" ('Sotah,' f. 14, 1). Thus every chapter but one of the Koran is headed, "In the name of God the Compassionate, the Merciful;" and it is an Eastern expression to say of one that has died that. "he is taken to the mercy of the Merciful." Comp. "Father of glory," Ephesians 1:17; 1 Corinthians 2:8 ("of spirits," Hebrews 12:9; "of lights," James 1:17). The plural, "compassions," is perhaps a plural of excellence, "exceeding compassion" (Romans 12:1), and may be influenced by the Hebrew word rachamim, often literally rendered by St. Paul "bowels." The article in the Greek ("the Father of the compassions") specializes the mercy. The God of all comfort. So in 2 Corinthians 13:11 God is called "the God of love and peace;" Romans 15:5, "the God of patience and of comfort;" 2:15, "the God of hope." This word "comfort" (unfortunately interchanged with "consolation" in the Authorized Version) and the word "affliction" (varyingly rendered by "trouble" and "tribulation" in the Authorized Version), are the keynotes of this passage; and to some extent of the whole Epistle. St. Paul is haunted as it were and possessed by them. "Comfort," as verb or substantive, occurs ten times in vers. 3-7; and "affliction" occurs four times in succession. It is characteristic of St. Paul's style to be thus dominated, as it were, by a single word (comp. notes on 2 Corinthians 3:2, 13; 4:2; see note on 2 Corinthians 10:8). The needless variations of the Authorized Version were well intentioned, but arose from a false notion of style, a deficient sense of the precision of special words, and an inadequate conception of the duties of faithful translation, which requires that we should as exactly as possible reflect the peculiarities of the original, and not attempt to improve upon them.
Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.
Verse 4. - Who comforteth us. The "us" implies here, not only St. Paul and Timothy, but also the Corinthians, who are one with them in a bond of Christian unity which was hitherto undreamed of, and was a new phenomenon in the world. St. Paul always uses the first person in passages where he is speaking directly of individual feelings and experiences. In other passages he likes to lose himself, as it were, in the Christian community. The delicate play of emotion is often shown by the rapid interchanges of singular and plural (see vers. 13, 15, 17; 2 Corinthians 2:1, 11, 14, etc.). The present, "comforteth," expresses a continuous experience, with which the Christians of the first age were most happily familiar (John 14:16-18; 2 Thessalonians 2:16, 17). In all our affliction. The collective experience of affliction is sustained by the collective experience of comfort. That we may be able to comfort. Thus St. Paul takes "a teleological view of sorrow." It is partly designed as a school of sympathy. It is a part of the training of an apostle, just as suffering is essential to one who is to be a sympathetic high priest (Hebrews 5:1, 2). In any trouble. The original more forcibly repeats the words, "in all affliction." Wherewith we ourselves are comforted. By means of the comfort which God gives us, we can, by the aid of blessed experience, communicate comfort to others.
For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ.
Verse 5. - As the sufferings of Christ abound in us; rather, unto us. "The sufferings of Christ" are the sufferings which he endured in the days of his flesh, and they were not exhausted by him, but overflow to us who have to suffer as he suffered, bearing about with us his dying, that we may share his life (2 Corinthians 4:10). The idea is, not that he is suffering in us and with us (though the truth of his intense sympathy with his suffering Church may be shadowed forth in some such terms, Matthew 25:40-45; Acts 9:4), but that we have "a fellowship in his sufferings" (Philippians 3:17); Galatians 2:20, "I have been crucified with Christ;" Hebrews 13:13, "Bearing his reproach." Our sufferings are the sufferings of Christ because we suffer as he suffered (1 Peter 4:13) and in the same cause. Aboundeth by Christ. If his sufferings, as it were, overflow to us, so too is he the Source of our comfort, in that he sendeth us the Comforter (John 14:16-18).
And whether we be afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer: or whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation.
Verse 6. - And; rather, but. The verse expresses the additional thought that the comfort (i.e. encouragement and strengthening) of the apostle, as well as his affliction, was not only designed for his own spiritual training, but was the source of direct blessing to his converts, because it enabled him, both by example (Philippians 1:14) and by the lessons of experience, to strengthen others in affliction, and so to further their salvation by teaching them how to endure (Romans 5:34). The affliction brings encouragement, and so works endurance in us, and, by our example and teaching, in you.
And our hope of you is stedfast, knowing, that as ye are partakers of the sufferings, so shall ye be also of the consolation.
Verse 7. - And our hope of you is steadfast; literally, And our hope is steadfast on your behalf. The variations of text and punctuation in the verse do not materially affect the sense. The meaning is "And I have a sure hope that you will reap the benefits of our common fellowship with Christ in his affliction, and of the comfort which he sends, because I know that you have experienced the sufferings, and am therefore sure that he will send you the strength and the endurance. The close connection of tribulation and Divine encouragement are found also in Matthew 5:4; 2 Timothy 2:12; 1 Peter 5:10. The interchange of the two between teacher and taught is part of the true communion of saints (comp. Philippians 2:26).
For we would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life:
Verse 8. - For we would not, brethren, have you ignorant. This is a favourite phrase with St. Paul (Romans 1:13; Romans 11:25; 1 Corinthians 12:1; 1 Thessalonians 4:13). Of our trouble; rather, about our affliction. He assumes that they are aware what the trouble was, and he does not specially mention it. What he wants them to know is that, by the help of their prayers and sympathy, God had delivered him out of this affliction, crushing as it was. Which came to us in Asia. Most commentators refer this to the tumult at Ephesus (Acts 19.); and since St. Paul's dangers, sicknesses, and troubles are clearly understated throughout the Acts, it is possible that the perils and personal maltreatment which were liable to occur during such a season of excitement may have brought on some violent illness; or, again, be may have suffered from some plots (1 Corinthians 16:9, 32; Acts 20:19) or shipwreck (2 Corinthians 11:25). In Romans 16:4 he alludes again to some extreme peril. But St. Paul seems systematically to have made light of external dangers and sufferings. All his strongest expressions (see Romans 9:1-3, etc.) are reserved for mental anguish and affliction. What he felt most keenly was the pang of lacerated affections. It is, therefore, possible that he is here alluding to the overpowering tumult of feelings which had been aroused by his anxiety as to the reception likely to be accorded to his first letter. To this and the accompanying circumstances he alludes again and again (2 Corinthians 2:4, 12; 2 Corinthians 7:5, etc.). The sense of "comfort" resulting from the tidings brought by Titus (2 Corinthians 7:6, 7, 13) is as strong as that expressed in these verses, and the allusion to this anguish of heart is specially appropriate here, because he is dwelling on the sympathetic communion between himself and his converts, both in their sorrows and their consolations. That we were pressed cut of measure, above strength; literally, that toe were weighed down exceedingly beyond our power. The trial seemed too heavy for him to bear. The phrase here rendered "out of measure" occurs in 2 Corinthians 4:17; Romans 7:13; 1 Corinthians 12:31; Galatians 1:13; but is only found in this particular group of letters. Insomuch that we despaired even of life. This rendering conveys the meaning. Literally it is, so that we were even in utter perplexity (2 Corinthians 4:8) even about life. "I fell into such agony of mind that I hardly hoped to survive." Generally, although he was often in perplexity, he succeeded in resisting despair (2 Corinthians 4:8).
But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead:
Verse 9. - But; perhaps rather, yea. The word strengthens the phrase, "were in utter perplexity." We had the sentence of death in ourselves. The original is more emphatic, "Ourselves in our own selves we have had." Not only did all the outer world look dark to me, but the answer which my own spirit returned to the question," What will be the end of it all?" was "Death!" and that doom still seems to echo in my spirit. The sentence; rather, the answer. The word is unique in the LXX. and the New Testament. In ourselves. Because I seemed to myself to be beyond all human possibility of deliverance. That we should not trust in ourselves. There was a divinely intended meaning in my despair. It was meant to teach me, not only submission, but absolute trust in God (see Jeremiah 17:5, 7). Which raiseth the dead. Being practically dead - utterly crushed with anguish and despairing of deliverance - I learnt by my deliverance to have faith in God as one who can raise men even from the dead.
Who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver: in whom we trust that he will yet deliver us;
Verse 10. - From so great a death. From a state of dejection and despair, which seemed to show death in all its power (see 2 Corinthians 4:10-12). And doth deliver. Perhaps a pious marginal gloss which has crept into the text of some manuscripts. We trust; rather, we have set our hope. That. This word is omitted in some good manuscripts, as also are the words, "and doth deliver." He will yet deliver us. This implies either that the perils alluded to were not yet absolutely at an end, or St. Paul s consciousness that many a peril of equal intensity lay before him in the future.
Ye also helping together by prayer for us, that for the gift bestowed upon us by the means of many persons thanks may be given by many on our behalf.
Verse 11. - Ye also helping together by prayer for us. St. Paul had a deep conviction of the efficacy of intercessory prayer (Romans 15:30, 31; Philippians 1:19; Philemon 1:22). By the means of many persons; literally, from many faces. Probably the word prosopon here has its literal meaning. The verse, then, means "that from many faces the gift to us may be thankfully acknowledged by many on our behalf." God, he implies, will be well pleased when he sees the gratitude beaming from the many countenances of those who thank him for his answer to their prayers on his behalf. The word for "gift" is charisma, which means a gift of grace, a gift of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:4).
For our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have had our conversation in the world, and more abundantly to you-ward.
Verses 12-14. - Vindication of his right to their sympathy. Verse 12. - For our rejoicing; rather, for our boasting is this. My expression of confidence in your sympathy with me may sound like a boast, but my boast merely accords with the testimony of my conscience that I have been sincere and honest to all, and most of all to you. The testimony of our conscience. To this St. Paul frequently appeals (Acts 23:1; Acts 24:16; Romans 9:1; 1 Corinthians 4:4). In simplicity; rather, in holiness. The best reading is ἁγιότητι (א, A, B, C, K), not ἀπλότητι. "Holiness" seems to have been altered to "simplicity," both on dogmatic grounds and because it is a rare word, only occurring in Hebrews 12:10. And godly sincerity; literally, sincerity of God; i.e. sincerity which is a gift of Divine grace (comp. "peace of God," Philippians 4:7; "righteousness of God," Romans 1:17). For the word used for "sincerity," see note on 1 Corinthians 5:8. Not with fleshly wisdom (comp. 2 Corinthians 2:17; 1 Corinthians 2:4), but by the grace of God. The preposition in both clauses is "in." The grace of God was the atmosphere which the apostle breathed, the sphere in which he worked. We have had our conversation. We lived and moved. The word "conversation" originally meant "mode of life," and is used to translate both anastrophe and politeuma, which means properly "citizenship." The exclusive modern sense of "conversation" is not earlier than the last century. In the world; i.e. in my general life as regards all men. More abundantly to you-ward. Sincerity, holiness, the signs of the grace of God, were specially shown by the apostle towards the Corinthians, because they were specially needed to guide his relations towards a Church which inspired him with deep affection, but which required special wisdom to guide and govern. The fact that, in spite of all his exceptional care, such bitter taunts could still be levelled at him, shows that he had not been mistaken in supposing that no Church required from him a more anxious watchfulness over all his conduct.
For we write none other things unto you, than what ye read or acknowledge; and I trust ye shall acknowledge even to the end;
Verse 13. - For we write none other things unto you, etc. Remarks like these obviously presuppose that the conduct and character of St. Paul had been misrepresented and calumniated. The perpetual recurrence to a strain of self-defence would have been needless if some one - probably Titus - had not told St. Paul that his opponents accused him of insincerity. Here, therefore, he tells them that he is opening out his very heart towards them. What he had to say to them and of them was here set forth without any subterfuges or arrieres pensees. He had nothing esoteric which differed from exoteric teaching. It is a melancholy thought that even such a one as Paul was reduced to the sad necessity of defending himself against such charges as that he intrigued with individual members of his Churches, wrote private letters or sent secret messages which differed in tone from those which were read in the public assembly. Or acknowledge; rather, or even fully know; i.e. from other sources. The paronomasia of the original cannot be preserved in English, but in Latin would be "Quae legitis aut etiam inteltigitis." And I trust... even to the end; rather, but I hope that, even unto the end, ye will fully know - even as ye fully knew us in part - that we are your subject of boast. After telling them that they have in this letter his genuine and inmost thoughts, he adds that "even as some of them (for this seem to be implied by the 'in part') already knew well that the mutual relations between him and them were something wherein to glory, he hopes that they will appreciate this fact, even to the end." He knows that some honour him; he hopes that all will do so; but he can only express this as a hope, for he is aware that there are calumnies abroad respecting him, so that he cannot feel sure of their unbroken allegiance. Such seems to be the meaning; but the state of mind in which St. Paul wrote has evidently troubled his style, and his expressions are less lucid and more difficult to unravel in this Epistle than in any other. To the end. The expression is quite general, like our "to the last." He does not seem definitely to imply either to the end of his life or to the coming of Christ, which they regarded as the end of all things, as in 1 Corinthians 1:8; 1 Corinthians 15:24; Hebrews 3:6.
As also ye have acknowledged us in part, that we are your rejoicing, even as ye also are ours in the day of the Lord Jesus.
Verse 14. - In part. Not as a whole Church. Some only of the Corinthians had been faithful to his teaching and to himself. (For the phrase, see Romans 11:25; Romans 15:15, 24; 1 Corinthians 11:18; 1 Corinthians 12:27; 1 Corinthians 13:9) Rejoicing; rather, ground of boast, as in 2 Corinthians 9:3; Romans 4:2, "whereof to glory;" 1 Corinthians 5:6. In ver. 12 the substantive means "the act of rejoicing." The word is characteristic of this group of Epistles, in which it occurs forty-six times, Even as ye also are ours. This clause takes away all semblance of self-glorification. In 1 Thessalonians 2:19, 20 and Philippians 2:16 he expresses the natural thought that a teacher's converts are, and will be in the last day, his "crown of exultation." Here alone he implies that they may glory in him as he in them. The thought, however, so far frond being egotistical, merely indicates the in. tense intercommunion of sympathy which existed between him and them. He does but place himself on a level with his converts, and imply that they mutually gloried in each other. In the day of the Lord Jesus (see on 1 Corinthians 3:13).
And in this confidence I was minded to come unto you before, that ye might have a second benefit;
Verses 15-22. - His change of purpose in visiting Corinth. Verse 15. - In this confidence. In reliance on the mutual respect and affection which exists between us. I was minded. The stress is partly on the tense: "my original desire was." When speaking of matters purely personal, St. Paul generally reverts to the first person. To come unto you before. I meant to visit you, first on my way to Macedonia, and again on my return from Macedonia, as explained in the next verse. A second benefit; rather, a second grace. There is another reading, χαρὰν, joy, and the word χάρις itself sometimes has this sense (as in Tobit 7:18), but not in the New Testament. Here, again, there is no boastfulness. St. Paul, filled as he was with the power of the Holy Spirit, was able to impart to his converts some spiritual gifts (Romans 1:11), and this was the chief reason why his visits were so eagerly desired, and why his change of plan had caused such bitter disappointment to the Corinthians. The importance of the Church of Corinth, its central position, and its unsettled state made it desirable that he should give them as much as possible of his personal supervision.
And to pass by you into Macedonia, and to come again out of Macedonia unto you, and of you to be brought on my way toward Judaea.
Verse 16. - To be brought on my way (see note on 1 Corinthians 16:6) toward Judaea (1 Corinthians 16:4-6).
When I therefore was thus minded, did I use lightness? or the things that I purpose, do I purpose according to the flesh, that with me there should be yea yea, and nay nay?
Verse 17. - When I therefore was thus minded. Without saying in so many words that all this plan was now given up, he proceeds to defend himself against the charges which had been evidently brought against him by his opponents. The Corinthians were aware that he no longer meant to come to them direct from Ephesus. They had certainly been informed of this by Titus, and he had indeed briefly stated it in 1 Corinthians 16:5. Their disappointment had led some of them into angry criticisms upon the "indecision" of the apostle, the more so because he had (out of kindness, as he here shows) spared them the pain of expressing his reasons. Did I use lightness? Was this change of plan a sign of "the levity" with which some of you charge me? Or the things that I purpose, do I purpose according to the flesh, etc.? Every phrase in this clause is of ambiguous meaning. For instance, the "or" may imply another charge, namely, that his purposes are carnal, and therefore capricious; or it may be the alternative view of his conduct, stated by way of self-defence - namely, "Does my change of plan imply that I am frivolous? or, on the contrary, are not my plans of necessity mere human plans, and therefore liable to be overruled by God's will?" Thus the meaning of the "or" is doubtful, and also the meaning of" according to the flesh." Generally this phrase is used in a bad sense, as in 2 Corinthians 10:2 and Romans 8:1; but it may also be used to mean "in a human way," as in 2 Corinthians 5:16. That with me there should be yea yea, and nay nay. There is probably no clause in the New Testament of which the certain sense must be left so indeterminate as this.
(1) The Authorized Version gives one way of taking the clause. The grammar equally admits of the rendering.
(2) That with me the yea should be yea, and the nay nay. Whichever rendering we adept, it may be explained in accordance with the view indicated in the last note. "I was not showing the levity which my opponents speak of, but my purposes are necessarily mere human purposes, and therefore my 'yes' and 'no' can be only 'yes' and 'no' when I make a plan. My 'yes' or 'no' may be overruled by the Spirit (Acts 16:7) or even hindered by Satan, and that more than once (1 Thessalonians 2:18)." "With me," i.e. as far as I am concerned, I can only say "yes" or" no;" but l'homme propose, Dieu dispose. His intended double visit to them was prevented, not by any frivolity of his, but, as he afterwards shows, by their own unfaithfulness and his desire to spare them. There is yet a third way of taking it which involves a different meaning - "In order that with me the 'yea yea ' may be also ' nay nay,'" Am I inconsistent? or, are my purposes merely carnal purposes, in order that my "yes yes" may be, as far as I am concerned, no better than "no no" - like the mere shifting feebleness of an aimless man? A fourth way of taking the clause, adopted by St. Chrysostom and many others, is, "Do I plan after the flesh, i.e. with carnal obstinacy, so that my ' yea' and 'nay' must be carried out at all costs?' This suggestion can hardly be right; for St. Paul was charged, not with obstinacy, but with indecision. The phrases, "yea" and "nay," as mentioned in Matthew 5:37 and James 5:12, throw no light on the passage, unless indeed some one had misquoted against St. Paul our Lord's words as a reason for adhering inviolably to a plan once formed. Of these various methods I adopt the first, because it seems to be, on the whole, most in accordance with the context. For on that view of the passage he contents himself with the remark that it cannot be inconsistency or levity on his part to alter plans which are liable to all the chance and change of ordinary circumstances; and then tells them that there was one part of his teaching which has nothing to do with mere human weakness, but was God's everlasting , "yes;" after which he explains to them the reason why he decided not to come to them until he had first visited Macedonia, and so to give them one visit, not two.
But as God is true, our word toward you was not yea and nay.
Verse 18. - But as God is true; rather, but God is faithful, whatever man may be (1 Corinthians 1:9; 1 Corinthians 10:13; 1 Thessalonians 5:24; 2 Thessalonians 3:3; 1 John 1:9). Our word towards you, etc. The verse should be rendered, But God is faithful, because (faithful herein, that) our preaching to you proved itself to be not yea and may. Whatever you may say of my plans and my conduct, there was one thing which involved an indubitable "yea," namely, my preaching to you. In that, at any rate, there was nothing capricious, nothing variable, nothing vacillating. St. Paul, in a manner characteristic to his moods of deepest emotion, "goes off at a word." The Corinthians talked of his "yea" and "nay" as though one was little better than the other, and neither could be depended on; well, at any rate, one thing, and that the most essential, was as sure as the faithfulness of God.
For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us, even by me and Silvanus and Timotheus, was not yea and nay, but in him was yea.
Verse 19. - For. This is a proof of what he has just said. His preaching was as firm as a rock; for, tried by time, it had proved itself a changeless" yea," being a preaching of Christ, the same yesterday, today, and forever. By me and Silvanus and Timotheus. They are mentioned because they had been his companions in the first visit to Corinth (Acts 18:5), and he wishes to show that his preaching of Christ had never wavered. "Silvanus" (1 Thessalonians 1:1; 2 Thessalonians 1:1) is the "Silas" of Acts 15:22. He disappears from the New Testament in this verse, unless he be the "Silvanus" of 1 Peter 5:12. Was not yea and nay, but in him was yea. "Became not (proved not to be) yes and no (in one breath, as it were, and therefore utterly untrustworthy), but in him there has been a yea." The perfect, "has become," means that in him the everlasting" yes" has proved itself valid, and still continues to be a changeless affirmation (Hebrews 13:8).
For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us.
Verse 20. - For all the promises of God in him are yea; rather, For so many as be the promises of God, in him is the yea. All the promises of God find in him their unchangeable fulfilment. He was "a minister to confirm the promises" alike to the Jews and the Gentiles (Romans 15:8, 9); and "the premise of the eternal inheritance" can only be fulfilled in him (Hebrews 9:15). And in him Amen. The true reading is," Wherefore by him also is the Amen to God, uttered by us to his glory" (א, A, B, C, F, G, etc.). In Christ is the "yea" of immutable promise and absolute fulfilment; the Church utters the "Amen" of perfect faith and grateful adoration. Here, as in 1 Corinthians 14:16, we have a proof of the ancientness of the custom by which the congregation utters the "Amen" at the end of praise and prayer. But as the "yea" is in Christ, so it is only through him that we can receive the grace to utter aright the "Amen" to the glory of God.
Now he which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God;
Verse 21. - Now he that stablisheth us. They will have seen, then, that steadfastness not levity, immutability not vacillation, has been the subject of their teaching. Who is the Source of that steadfastness? God, who anointed us and confirmed us, and you with us, into unity with his Anointed. With you. We partake alike of this Christian steadfastness; to impugn mine is to nullify your own. In Christ; rather, into Christ, so as to be one with him. They are already "in Christo;" they would aim more and more to be established "in Christurn." Who anointed us. Every Christian is a king and priest to God, and has received an unction from the Holy One (1 John 2:20, 27).
Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.
Verse 22. - Who hath also sealed us. We cannot be deconsecrated, disanointed. Still less can the confirming seal be broken. He continues to dwell on the conception of the unchangeableness of God and of the gospel into which he had been incidentally led by the charge of "lightness." The earnest of the Spirit. The promises which we have received are not mere promises, they are already so far fulfilled to us and in us as to guarantee hereafter their plenary fruition. Just as in money bargains "earnest money," "money on account," is given, in pledge that the whole will be ultimately discharged, so we have "the earnest of the Spirit" (2 Corinthians 5:5), "the firstfruits of the Spirit" (Romans 8:23), which are to us "the earnest" or pledge money that we shall hereafter enter upon the purchased possession (Ephesians 1:13, 14). We now see the meaning of the "and." It involves a climax - the promise is much; the unction more; the seal a still further security (Ephesians 4:30; 2 Timothy 2:19); but beyond all this we have already a part payment in the indwelling of the Present of God (Romans 5:5; Romans 8:9; Galatians 4:6). The word arrabon, rendered "earnest," has an interesting history. It is very ancient, for it is found (עַרָבון) in Genesis 38:17, 18, and comes from a root meaning "to pledge." It seems to be a Phoenician word, which had been introduced into various languages by the universality of Phoenician commerce. In classical Latin it is shortened into arrha, and it still exists in Italian as aura, in French as arrhes. The equivalent Hebrew figure is "firstfruits" (Romans 8:23).
Moreover I call God for a record upon my soul, that to spare you I came not as yet unto Corinth.
Verse 23. - Moreover I call God for a record; rather, But I call God for a witness. At this point, to 2 Corinthians 2:4, he enters for the first time on the kindly reasons which had led him to forego his intended earlier visit. He uses a similar adjuration in 2 Corinthians 11:31; and although these appeals (comp. 1 Corinthians 15:31; Romans 1:9; Galatians 1:20) may be due in part to the emotional fervour of his temperament, yet he would hardly have resorted to them in this self defence, if the calumnies of his enemies had not gained much credence. The French proverb, Qui s'excuse s'accuse, is often grossly abused. The refutation of lies and slanders is often a duty, not because they injure us, but because, by diminishing our usefulness, they may injure others. Upon my soul. Not "to take vengeance on my soul if I lie," but to confirm the appeal of its honesty and integrity. By the use of such "oaths for confirmation," St. Paul, no less than other apostles, shows that he understood our Lord's rule, "Let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay," as applying to the principle of simple and unvarnished truthfulness of intercourse, which requires no further confirmation; but not as a rigid exclusion of the right to appeal to God in solemn cases and for good reasons. To spare you. This postponement of the intended visit was a sign of .forbearance, for which they should have been grateful. After all that he had heard of them, if he had come at all, it could only have been "with a rod" (1 Corinthians 4:21). I came not as yet. The rendering is erroneous. It literally means "I no longer came," i.e. I forbore to come as I had intended.
Not for that we have dominion over your faith, but are helpers of your joy: for by faith ye stand.
Verse 24. - Not for that we have dominion over your faith. The expression, "to spare you," might have been resented as involving a claim "to lord it over their faith." He had, indeed, authority (1 Colossians 4:21; 2 Corinthians 10:6; 2 Corinthians 13:2, 10), but it was a purely spiritual authority; it was valid only over those who recognized in him an apostolic commission. St. Peter, no less than St. Paul, discourages the spirit of ecclesiastical tyranny (1 Peter 5:3). But are helpers of your joy. We are fellow-helpers of your Christian joy, and therefore I would not come to cause your grief. That was how I desired to spare you. The object of my visits is always "for your furtherance and joy of faith" (Philippians 1:25). For by faith ye stand. The expression is not a mere general principle, but explains his disclaimer of any desire "to lord it over their faith." As far as their "faith" was concerned, they were not to blame; that remained unshaken, and was independent of any visit or authority of St. Paul. But while "in respect of faith ye stand" (Ephesians 6:13), there are other points in which you are being shaken, and in dealing with these I should have been obliged to take severe measures, which, if I postponed my visit, would (I hoped) become unnecessary.