ICC New Testament Commentary
It is not expedient for me doubtless to glory. I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord.12:1-10. Glorying About Revelations to His Soul and a Thorn for His Flesh
I have received two sublime revelations, and also, to preserve me from vanity respecting this great favour, a humiliating infirmity.
1 This glorying is forced upon me. I have indeed nothing to gain by it, for myself or for the good of the Church; but I will pass on to a worthier subject, viz. visions and revelations granted to me by the Lord Jesus Christ. They have been called delusions or inventions, but they are sober fact. 2 I can tell you of a man who was in ecstasy with Christ fourteen years ago—it was Christ’s doing and no credit to the man: whether he was still in the body, I cannot tell, or whether he was in rapture away from the body. I cannot tell; that is known to God alone: he was caught up, this man of whom I speak, even to the third heaven. 3 I can tell you also that this man of whom I speak, either in the body or apart from the body (God knows which), 4 was caught up into the Paradise where God dwells, and there listened to utterances unutterable, such as no human being is allowed to repeat. 5 Of such a man as this, not knowing his own condition and yet so honoured, I am prepared to glory; but of myself personally, such as you know me, I am not prepared to glory, except as regards what I have called my weaknesses. 6 I am not bound to abstain in this way, for if I choose to glory about other things, I shall not be a fool in so doing, for I shall only be saying what is true; but I do abstain, because I do not want anyone to form a higher estimate of me than that which he can gather from what he sees me do or hears me say. 7 And then there is the exceeding greatness of the revelations. Therefore, in order that I should not be exalted overmuch about these, there was given to me a painful malady, like a stake driven into my flesh, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, that I should not be exalted overmuch. 8 About this affliction I three times made supplication to the Lord, praying Him to remove it from me. 9 And this was His reply; “It is sufficient for thee that thou hast received grace to become My Apostle and to convert the nations; for it is when man’s strength fails that My power is brought to perfection.” Most gladly, therefore, I shall prefer glorying in all my weaknesses to asking the Lord to free me from them, so that the power of Christ may spread a sheltering cover over me. 10 That is why I am so well pleased with weaknesses, such as wanton injuries, dire hardships, persecutions, and desperate straits, when they are endured for Christ’s sake. For it is just when, in myself I am utterly weak that in Him I am truly strong.
1. καυχᾶσθαι δεῖ οὐ συμφέρον μέν, ἐλεύσομαι δὲ κ.τ.λ. Owing probably to accidental mistakes in copying and conjectural emendations by puzzled scribes, the text of this verse is so confused that it is impossible to disentangle the original text with certainty; but on the whole this wording is likely to be right, or nearly so; ‘I must needs glory: it is not indeed expedient, but I will come to visions, etc.’ It is however possible that καυχᾶσθαι δὲ οὐ συμφέρον μέν, ἐλεύσομαι δὲ κ.τ.λ. may be what the Apostle dictated; ‘Now to glory is not indeed expedient, but I will come to visions, etc.’ The difference between these two is not very important. * What is clear is that, before passing from the great peril at Damascus to experiences of a very different kind, he cannot refrain from remarking once more that all this foolish glorying is forced upon him; he knows that it is not profitable, that it may lower his self-respect and the respect which others have for him, but he has no choice about it; ὑμεῖς με ἠναλκάσατε (v. 11). Συμφέρον is used in a wide sense; ‘likely to be edifying to other Christians or to myself’ (8:10; 1 Corinthians 6:12, 1 Corinthians 6:7:35, 1 Corinthians 6:10:23, 33, 1 Corinthians 6:12:7).
ὁπτασίας καὶ ἀποκαλύΨεις κυρίου. Seeing that κυρίου belongs to both substantives, the genitive is probably subjective; ‘visions and revelations which proceed from the Lord,’ rather than those in which the Lord is seen and revealed; cf. διʼ ἀποκαλύψεως Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ (Galatians 1:12). But where either objective or subjective makes good sense, it is sometimes difficult to see on which side the balance of probability lies; e.g. in the phrase τὸ εὐαγγέλιον τοῦ Θεοῦ or Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ. ‘Vsions and revelations’ is a cross division, for some, but not all, visions reveal something, and some, but not all, revelations are made without anything being visible. †In this case, however, all the ‘visions’ would reveal something, for they proceed from the Lord (κυρίου), who sends them for the very purpose of making something known. It is perhaps true to say that, except in the Apocrypha (Ecclus. 43:2, 16; addition to Esther 4:3), ὀπτασία always means a vision that reveals something (Luke 1:22, Luke 1:24:23; Acts 26:19; Malachi 3:2; Daniel 9:23, Daniel 9:10:1, Daniel 9:10:7, Daniel 9:8, Daniel 9:16 [Theod.], where LXX has ὅρασις or ὅραμα). The word was probably colloquial before it became Biblical.
The incidents to which this verse forms an introduction, like that of the flight from Damascus, had probably been used as a means of attacking St Paul. People may easily have said that these ecstatic experiences, which he claimed to have had, proved that he was a deluded enthusiast, if not actually crazy. If they were not deliberate inventions, they were the outcome of vivid and unrestrained imagination. He had thought about them till he believed that they had taken place. It is possible that this view survives here and there in the Clementine Homilies and Recognitions, the Judaizing writers of which now and again, under cover of Simon Magus, make an attack on St Paul. In particular they deride the ‘visions’ of Simon Magus.“Simon said, Visions and dreams, being God-sent, do not speak falsely in regard to those things which they have to tell. And Peter said, You were right in saying that being God-sent they do not speak falsely. But it is uncertain whether he who sees has seen a God-sent dream”(Clem. Hom. xvii. 15; cf. Hom. xi. 5, ii. 17, 18; Recog. ii. 55, iii. 49, iv. 35). See Hort, Clem. Recog. pp. 120 ff.; Hastings, DB. iv. p. 524; JTS., Oct. 1901, p. 53.
It is not likely that εἰ before καυχᾶσθαι (א3 39, f Vulg.) is original. καυχᾶσθαι δεῖ (B D 3 F G L P,; d f g Vulg. Syrr. Goth.) is probably to be preferred to καυχᾶσθαι δέ (א D* Copt.) or καυχ. δή (K M, Aeth.). But in MSS. the confusion between ει and ε is very freq., and δέ may be original. The various readings in 1 Corinthians 6:20 illustrate the confusion between δεῖand δή. οὐ συμφέρον (א B G 17, 67* *) rather than οὐ συμφέρει (D K L P); Gregory (preleg. p.75) shows that συμφέρον has better authority than συνφέρον. μέν(א B G P 17,67* * f Vulg. Copt.) rather than μοι (D3 K L m,Syr-Hark., Chrys.); but D * Aeth. Goth have neither μέν nor μοι. B 213 have ἐλευσὁμαι δὲ καί.
The variations in the text of this verse do not justify its exclusion as an interpolation. See above on 11:32, 33.
2-5. In solemn and subdued but rhythmical language, which reads as if it were the outcome of much meditation, and which suggests a good deal more than it states, St Paul affirms the reality of his mysterious experiences. * Reluctantly, and only for a moment, he lifts the veil which usually covers the details of the most sacred moments of his life and allows the Corinthians to see enough to convince them that the revelations of which he has claimed to be the recipient were intensely and supremely real. He could doubt his own identity with the recipient rather than doubt the reality of the revelations, and he speaks of them as if they had been experienced by some one who during those mysterious times was other than himself. But, whatever these experiences were, they could not be classed as ‘weaknesses,’ and we must admit that for the moment he has ceased to think of τὰ τῆς ἀσθενείας, for he cannot have regarded them as such, whatever his critics may have done. †
It has been suggested that these revelations are mentioned simply in order to explain the ‘weakness’ caused by the ‘stake for the flesh’ (v. 7), so that in reality there is no break in the catalogue of τὰ τῆς ἀσθενείας μον. The context is against this view. The revelations are mentioned independently of their consequences; and it would be more true to say that the σκόλοψ is an appendix to the ἀποκαλύψεις than that the ἀποκαλύψεις are a preface to the σκόλοψ. It is “because he is going to pass to another kind of glorying, which to the many seems to set him off in brighter colours” (Chrys.), that he writes what we have here.
Bousset shows that among the Jews the belief in the fact of translation to heaven was not confined to the cases of primitive saints and heroes, such as Enoch and Elijah. Historical persons of a much later date were believed to have had this experience. In the Babylonian Talmud, Chagiga, 14b (Goldschmidt, 3:834 ff.), we are told that four Rabbis had had this experience. Ben Azai beheld the glory and died. Ben Soma beheld and was stricken (went mad). Acher, who ranks as a heretic among famous teachers, cut up the young plants (ruined the garden of truth with his disastrous doctrine). Of R. Akiba alone is it said that in peace he ascended and in peace he came back. The Angels would have sent even him away, but the Holy One, who is blessed for ever, said to them, “Suffer this old man, for he is worthy, to enjoy My honour and glory.”
But we are going beyond what this evidence warrants, if we infer from it that a series of younger Rabbinical contemporaries of St Paul had had ecstatic experiences similar to his, and that he had brought this strange form of piety over from his Rabbinical past into Christianity. Granting that what is told us of these four Rabbis is historically true,-and that may be granting a great deal,—how can we tell that their experiences were similar to those of St Paul, or that he knew anything of such things before he met the Lord on the way to Damascus?
2. οἶδα ἄνθρωπον ἐν Χριστῷ πρὸ ἐτῶν δεκατεσσάρων … ἁρπαγέντα. ‘I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up.’ Not, ‘I knew (AV) such a person fourteen years ago.’ St Paul knows him intimately at the time of writing, but not until v. 7 does he show that he is speaking of himself.
The meaning of ἐν Χριστῷ is not clear. It is not to be taken with δἶδα, as if he were speaking in Christ’s name; it belongs to ἄνθρωπό ἁρπαλέντα, and it is probably inserted in order to disclaim all credit for the glorious experience, in which he was not active but passive, being under Divine influence; it was ‘in the power of Christ’ that he was caught up. * The mention of the fourteen years is natural enough. In telling of a remarkable incident of one’s life it is natural to begin with the date, if one remembers it. The Prophets do so repeatedly with regard to thier spiritual experiences, and Amos (4:7) does so in a manner parallel to this, πρὸ τριῶν μηνῶν τοῦ τρυγητοῦ. Cf. Hosea 1:1; Zechariah 1:1, Zechariah 1:7:1; Zechariah 6:1; Jeremiah 1:2, 26:1, 42:7; Ezekiel 1:1, Ezekiel 3:16. The date in this case shows that it was after St Paul had been a Christian for about seven years that this event took place. But there is nothing to show that during these fourteen years he had never mentioned to any person the fact of these revelations until the Corinthians compelled him to break silence (Chrys., Thdrt., and some moderns). The context rather implies that the bare fact was known; i.e. it was known that he said that he had received communications direct from heaven.
There is nothing in Acts that can be identified with these experiences. The trance in 22:17 is very different; he is not caught up to the Lord, but the Lord comes to him, and he repeats what was said to him, as he does with regard to what was said to him on the road to Damascus. That he was caught up to heaven when he was lying apparently dead, after being stoned at Lystra (Acts 14:19), is a surprising hypothesis. Even more surprising is the supposition that St Paul was one of the prophets who went down from Jerusalem to Antioch and foretold the great famine (Acts 11:27, Acts 11:28), and that it was when he was in the third heaven that the coming of the famine was revealed to him! With less improbability Zahn (Intr. to N.T iii. p. 462) connects this revelation with the momentous change of preaching to Gentiles, which was made at Antioch about a.d. 43 (Acts 11:25, Acts 11:26). But if that were correct, would not St Paul have declared that he had Divine authority for this step? Conjectural connexions of this kind are not of much value. For other visions cf. Acts 16:9, Acts 16:18:9, Acts 16:23:11, Acts 16:27:23; and for ἁρπαγέντα cf. Acts 8:39; 1 Thessalonians 4:17; 12:5. The use of ἀνελήμφθη is similar (appendix to Mk. 26. v. 19; Acts 1:2, Acts 1:1:11, Acts 1:22, 1 Timothy 3:16; 2 Kings 2:11). Ἡρπάγην for ἡρπάσθην is late Greek.
The psychological phenomenon of ecstasy is found in other religions and philosophies, notably in Buddhism and Neoplatonism. Porphyry (Vita Plotini, ii. 23) tells us that, while he was with him. Plotinus four times attained to that oneness (ἑνωθῆναι) with God which was his τέλος καὶ σκοπός, and that he accomplished this Ἐνεργείᾳ ἀρρήτῳ. This is very different from what the Apostle tells us about himself. In his case there is no ambitious struggle, often without success, for ecstatic union with the Deity. ‘In the power of Christ’ he is caught up into glory. There is another marked contrast when we compare the elaborate details given us about the experience of Enouch and others when translated to heaven with the brief and restrained statements made by the Apostle in these few verses. He does not tell us what he saw in the third heaven, still what he saw in the first and second, while on his way to the third.* He does not even tell us that he was conscious of passing through other celestial regions. The condensed intensity of the narrative leaves little room for the play of fancy or exaggeration.
εἴτε ἐν σώματι οὐκ οἶδα, εἴτε ἐκτὸς τοῦ σώματο͂ς οὐκ οἶδα. He is quite clear about what he knows and what he does not know. He knows that he was caught up even to the third heaven; about that there is no possibility of delusion. He was conscious of the transfer, and he vividly remembers that for a time he was in heaven. But he is not sure of the relation in which his spirit was to his body during this experience; about that his memory tells him nothing. His body may have been caught up to heaven, or it may have remained, bereft of consciousness, on earth. “That he was in the third heaven he was not ignorant, but the manner he knew not clearly” (Chrys.). This shows that he was alone at the time; if others had been with him, he would inevitably have solved this doubt by asking whether his body had disappeared.
Jewish beliefs respecting Enoch and Eliajah, Baruch and Ezra, and perhaps also Jeremiah (Matthew 16:14; Mat_2 Esdr. 2:18; 2 Macc 15:13, 14) had made the notion of bodily translation to heaven a commonplace. Such a translation may be difficult to believe, but in imagination it is easily realized, whereas disembodied spirit cannot be represented in thought. This idea of bodily translation would be familiar to St Paul, and he thought it possible that it might have taken place in his own case. With εἴτε … εἴτε (see on 1:6) he places the two alternatives on an equality. In the apocryphal Revelation or Vision of Paul (Visio Pauli) it is assumed that he was caught up in the body. On the other hand, in the Assumption of Moses, the soul is carried away without the body, and Philo (De somn. i. p. 626, Mang.) says that there was a tradition that Moses was freed from the body while he listened to the Divine utterances on the mount, ὧν ἀκροατὴν Μωϋσῆν ἁσώματον γενόμενον λόλος ἔχει. But we are not told what became of his body during the forty days on Sinai.
We may suppose that in St Paul’s case the ecstasy was experienced in a form which was conditioned by his existing beliefs respecting such subjects. We do not make our dreams, and they come to us independently of our wills; but they are conditioned by the materials with which we are familiar, when we are awake (Bousset, p. 211).
Ἐν σώματι is a colloquial expression and is equivalent to an adverb. For this reason it has no art., like ἐν οἴκͅ, ‘indoors, at home’ (1 Corinthians 11:34, 1 Corinthians 11:14:35; Mark 2:1);* Where it is not thus we have ἐν τῷ ς (4:10, 5:6), just as here we have ἐκτὸς τοῦ σώματος, which is not a colloquial expression. The omission of the art. before τρίτου and other ordinals is also colloquial (Acts 2:15, Acts 2:23:23; Matthew 26:44; Mark 14:72; ect.)
ἕως τρίτου οὐρανοῦ The ἕως does not prove that St Paul regarded the third heaven as the highest of all, but certainly ‘even to the third heaven’ would be more naturally used if the third heaven were the highest, than if there were four other heavens above it. We know from the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs (Lev_2. and 3.) and from the Book of the Secrets of Enoch that some Jews about the time of St Paul distinguished seven heavens, an idea in which they have been followed by the Valentinians and by the Mahometans. The Secrets of Enoch is not very clear in its account of the seven heavens, but in one place it would seem that paradise either is the third heaven or is in the third heaven (8:1-3, 42:3). In the Testaments the heavens and paradise seem to be different (Leviticus 18:5, Leviticus 18:6, Leviticus 18:10). It is by no means certain that St Paul was familiar with these ideas, and it is not probable that he is alluding to them here.† He is using language which was to be understood by the Corinthians, and it is not likely that he expected them to know about seven heavens; whereas ‘even to the third heaven’ might convey to any one the idea of the most sublime condition that is conceivable. Irenaeus (II. xxx. 7) has good sense on his side when, in arguing against the Valentinians, he rejects the notion that the Apostle was raised only to the third heaven in a series of seven, leaving the four highest heavens still beyond him. Bengel’s suggestion may be right, that St Paul’s three heavens are the heaven of the clouds, the heaven of the sun and stars, and the heaven in which God dwells; but that of Calvin seems to be preferable; numerus ternarius κατʼ ἐξοχήν positus est prosummo et perfectissimo. Where seven heavens are counted, the third is a very inferiod region, with somewhat earthly characteristics.
3. καὶ οἶδα τὸν τοιοῦτον ἄνθρωπον. ‘I know also that the man of whom I speak.rs; We have to decide whether this is a repetion of v. 2 or the record of a second experience. That ἁρπάλομαι is used in both places is no sign that vv. 3, 4 simply repeat v. 2 with an additional fact; in each case, if two cases are meant, he was ‘caught up’ from the earth. The change from ‘third heaven’ to ‘paradise’ is no evidence either way; for ‘paradise’ may mean the ‘third heaven’ or some portion of it, and if it is a mere synonym, there may have been two occasions of rapture to the same region of heaven. Again, the plural in v. 1 is no evidence either way. It may mean more than one vision and revelation, or it may simply indicate a class of which one example is to be given. Moreover, even if vv. 3 and 4 are a repetition of v. 2, we still have two revelations, for the Divine communication in v. 9 is a revelation. See below on v. 7. But the καί at the beginning of v. 3 is rather strongly in favour of the view that we have two revelations without counting the Divine utterance in v. 9; for the καί is almost awkwardly superfluous if what follows simply repeats v. 2.
On the whole, patristic writers seem to be mostly in favour of either two raptures, or one rapture in two stages, first to the third heaven and thence to paradise. The language of some of them would fit either of these hypotheses (Irenaeus, 11. xxx. 7; Tertullian, De Praes. Haer. 24; Cyril of Jerusalem, Cat. Lect. xiv. 26); but Clement of Alexandria (Strom. v. 12, p. 693, ed. Potter) is plainly for the latter; “caught up even to the third heaven and thence into paradise.”* In this he is followed by few moderns, who for the most part adopt the view that St Paul is speaking throughout of only one experience, and that ‘paradise’ is equivalent to the ‘third heaven.’ Bengel, however, is confident that vv. 3, 4 duplex rei momentum exprimunt. So also Bousset with somewhat less confidence; so werden wir schwerlich verstehen sollen, dass Paradies und dritter Himmel dasselbe seien, dass er sich also in seiner Aussage nur wiederhole (p. 209). McFadyen finds it “hard to say, but perhaps the second statement is intended to suggest a second experience, similar but higher.” The Fathers are loose in their quotations of the passage. They sometimes say that the Apostle heard unutterable words in the third heaven, which is no proof that they identify paradise with the third heaven; and they sometimes say that he saw things of which it is not lawful to speak.
χωρὶς τοῦ σώματος. ‘Apart from the body.’ The change from ἐκτός to χωρίς should be marked in translation.
Many texts in this verse read ἐκτός, and Vulg. has extra corpus in both places, but χωρίς (B D * E *) is doubtless original.
4. εἰς τὸν παράδεισον. See on Luke 23:43 and Sewte on Revelation 2:7, the only other passages in N.T. in which παράδεισος occurs; also Hastings, DB. ii. pp. 668 f., DCG. ii. p. 318; Salmond, Christ. Doct. of Immortality, pp. 346 f. The word tells us little about the nature of the unseen world. In the O.T. it is used either of the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:9, Genesis 2:2:10, Genesis 2:15, etc.) or of a park or pleasure-ground (Song of Solomon 4:13; Ecclesiastes 2:5; Joel 2:3; etc.); but it represents three or four different Hebrew words. We must leave open the question as to whether St Paul regards paradise and the third heaven as identical, or as quite different, or as one containing the other, for there is no clue to the answer. See Int. Journal of Apocrypha, July 1914, pp. 74 f.
ἤκουσεν ἄρρητα ῥήματα. ‘He heard unutterable utterances.’ The verbal contradiction may be accidental, but it is probably another instance of playing upon words of which St Paul is fond (1:13, 3:2, 4:8, 5:4, 6:10, 7:10, 10:5, 6, 12).* Neither ‘unspeakable words’ (AV, RV) nor arcana verba (Vulg.) exactly reproduces the Greek. The latter might be effata ineffabilia. Cf. ἀλάλους λαλεῖν (Mark 7:37). Ἄρρητος is used in class. Grk. of things which cannot be expressed in words (cf. στεναγμοῖς ἀλαλήτοις, Romans 8:26); but more often of things which are either too sacred or too horrible to be mentioned, nefanda. What follows shows what is the meaning here, the only place in Bibl. Grk. in which the word occurs.
ἃ οὐκ ἐξὸν ἀνθρώπͅ λαλῆσαι. No doubt ἀνθρώπῳ is to be taken with ἐξόνrather than with λαλῆσαι: ‘which it is not lawful (Matthew 12:4; Acts 2:29) for a man to speak,’ rather than ‘not lawful to say to a man’: non licet homini loqui (Vulg.) will fit either interpretation, but the difference between the two is not very great. That he heard the voices of the heavenly choir, and similar conjectures, are not very wise. The question, what was the use of the revelation, if the Apostle might not make known what was revealed? can be answered. It was a source of strength to the Apostle himself in his overwhelming trials, and thus a source of strength also to the millions whom he has encouraged. Cf. 10:4, where the seer is told not to write down what he heard. See Abbott, Johannine Grammar, p. 305.
5. ὑπὲρ τοῦ τοιούτου καυχήσομαι. No doubt τοῦ τοιούτου is masc, as is shown by T.T. ἄνθρωπον (v. 3) and by the contrast with ἐμαυτοῦ. He speaks as if there were two Pauls, one about whom he could glory, and another about whom he would not do so. And in a sense there were two; for, as Origen remarks, “He who was caught up to the third heaven and heard unspeakable words is a different Paul from him who said, Of such a one I will glory.” To a person who has been in ecstasy that experience may seem to belong to a person other than his everyday self. And it is only as having been bestowed upon a person different from his ordinary self that the Apostle will glory of the unspeakable favours bestowed in these raptures. They were not to his credit; for he was entirely passive throughout; all was ‘of the Lord’ and ‘in Christ.’ As to his own conduct, he returns to what was said in 11:30, he will glory, not of the things which he has achieved, but of the things which he has suffered, the things in which he has been weak and the Lord strong. He returns to these in v. 7.
After ταῖς ἀσθενείαις א D 3 E G K L M P, f g Vulg. Aeth. Goth. add μου: B D * 17 67, d e Syrr. Copt. Arm. omit. Cf. 11:30. Such insertions for completeness are common; see vv. 9, 10; Ephesians 3:6, Ephesians 3:5:31; Php 4:23.
6. ἐὰν γὰρ θελήσω καυχήσασθαι. ‘For if I should desire to glory of revelations which I am allowed to disclose, or of things in which I was active and achieved something, I shall not be foolish in so doing (11:1, 16), for I shall be saying what is true’ (5:11). If θελήσω is fut. indic., it may imply that he does desire to do so; but it is probably aor. subjunct. Blass, § 65. 5, holds that in N.T. there is no certain example of ἐάν with fut. indic.; but Luke 19:40 and Acts 8:31 are hardly doubtful, and ἐάνπερ ἐκπληρώσουσιν occurs in a papyrus of 2nd cent. b.c.. Winer, p. 369; Burton, § 254; J. H. Moulton, p. 168. The timeless aor. infin. after such verbs as θέλω, βούλομαι, δύναμαι, ἐλπίζω is normal; 2:7, 5:4; 1 Corinthians 14:19, 1 Corinthians 14:16:7; etc. Burton, § 113.
φείδομαι δέ. We have this absolute use of φείδομαι again 13:2: cf. Isaiah 54:2. In N.T. it is elsewhere followed by a gen., in LXX by a prep., ἀπό, περί, ὑπέρ, ἐπί.
μή τις εἰς ἐμὲ λογίσηται. ‘Lest any man should count of me, form an estimate of me.’ The constr. is unusual, but it probably does not mean ‘lay to my credit,’ which would almost require ἐμοί. In Hosea 7:15 εἰς ἐμὲ ἐλογίσαντο πονηρά means ‘they imagined mischief against me.’
ὑπὲρ ὃ βλέπει με ἢ ἀκούει ἐξ ἐμου. ‘Above that which he seeth in me or heareth from me.’ He wishes to be judged, not by what he tells them respecting his exceptional privileges, but by what their own experience of him tells them, by his conduct, preaching, and letters. ‘Of me’ for ἐξ ἐμοῦ (AV) is misleading: he does not desire to be judged by what people say of him; it is the words that come from him that count. In 2 Timothy 1:13, 2 Timothy 2:2 we have παρʼ ἐμοῦ ἠκούσας.
After ἀκούει א3 D * E * K L P, d e f Vulg. Goth. Syr-Hark. add τις: א * B D3 F G 17 67, g Copt. Arm. Aeth. omit. It is probably an interpolation. Divergence of F from f
7. Text and punctuation of this verse are in dispute, and no certainty is attainable. There is probably some original error of dictation or of writing. But the meaning of the verse is certain and simple, however we reach it. The extraordinary revelations granted to him might have caused the Apostle to think too highly of himself; to prevent this, severe and humiliating bodily suffering was laid upon him.
καὶ τῇ ὑπερβολῇ τῶν ἀποκαλύψεων. The plur. is some confirmation of the view that v. 2 and vv. 3, 4 give us two cases of rapture, for ‘the revelations’ naturally refers to those just mentioned; but Acts tells us of several others (16:6-10, 18:9, 23:11, 27:23), and he may be including some of these here. Lachmann’s proposal to take these words with the conclusion of v. 5 and make v. 6 a parenthesis, is barely possible; ‘I will not glory, save in my weaknesses (for if I should desire … hear from me) and in the exceeding greatness of the revelations.’ WH. propose to take these words with the conclusion of v. 6; ‘but I forbear, lest any man should …, and by reason of the greatness of the revelation.’ This means that he has two reasons for forbearing, fear of being overrated and the greatness of the revelations. It is hard to believe that either arrangement was in the Apostle’s mind. The best attested text comes out thus, and it is possible that something like this was the result of incoherent dictation; ‘And by reason of the exceeding greatness (4:7) of the revelations—wherefore, that I should not be exalted overmuch (2 Thessalonians 2:4) there was given to me a stake for the flesh, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, that I should not be exalted overmuch.’ St Paul begins with what is the basis of what follows,—the greatness of the revelations. Having mentioned this with emphasis, he begins a new constr. with διό and finishes with yet another constr., repeating ἵνα μὴ ὑπεραίρωμαι either through forgetfulness, or (more probably) because he wishes his readers not to forget the purpose of the σκόλοψ. For other possibilities see Meyer. To get rid of διό would be a great help, but it is indefinitely more probable that it has been omitted from some texts because of its difficulty than that it has been inserted in such good texts without authority. See ὑπερβολή, Index IV.
Ὑπεραίρομαι is found in N.T. only here and in 2 Thessalonians 2:4, where it occurs in the description of ὁ ἄνθρωπος τῆς ἀνομίας. St Paul is rather fond of such compounds; ὑπεραυξάνω, ὑπερβαίνω, ὑπερντυγχάνω, ὑπερνικάω, ὑπερεκτείνω (10:14), ὑπερπλεονάζω, ὑπερυψόω, all of which are ἅπαξ λεγόμενα in N.T. See also on ὑπερλίαν(11:5), p. 299.
ἐδόθη μοι. Of course by God, as ἵνα μὴ ὑπεραίρωμαι shows. It was sent to preserve the Apostle from spiritual pride. See Aug. De. Nat. et Grat. 27; also the Reply to Faustus, xxii. 20 This, however, does not prevent Meyer from saying that the σκόλοψ was given by Satan. Satan is regarded as an instrument for effecting the Divine purpose, as Judas in the case of the Atonement. See on 1 Corinthians 5:5, also J. H. Bernard on 1 Timothy 1:20. Satan is ever ready to inflict suffering, and is sometimes made to be instrumental when suffering is needed for the discipline of souls. This idea prevails in the prologue to the Book of Job. But if St Paul had meant that it was Satan who was the agent in this case, he would have used a less gracious word than ἑδόθη which he often has of the bestowal of Divine favours; e.g. Galatians 3:21; Ephesians 3:8, Ephesians 3:6:19; 1 Timothy 4:14; cf. 1:22, 5:5, 8:1, 16, 10:8, 13:10; etc. etc. Some such verb as ἐπιτίθημι (Luke 10:30, Luke 10:23:26; Acts 26:23), or Βάλλω (Revelation 2:24), Or ἐπιΒάλλω (1 Corinthians 7:35), would have been more suitable. Gregory of Nazianzum in his Panegyric of Basil (Or. xliii. 82) speaks of a malady of his own as τὸν δεδομένον ἡμῖν παρὰ Θεοῦ σκόλοπα.
σκόλοΨ τῇ σαρκί. These three words raise three questions, two of translation and one of interpretation, which have elicited a very large amount of discussion; and, when all has been said, no certain answer to any one of the three can be given. What is the exact force of the dative? What is the right translation of σκόλοψ? What form of suffering is meant by the metaphor?
1. ‘For the flesh’ is on the whole more probable than ‘in the flesh’ (AV, RV). Why omit ἐν if ‘in the flesh’ is intended? Earlier English Versions differ. Wiclif and the Rhemish follow the ambiguous stimulus carnis adopted in the Vulgate from Cyprian (Test. iii. 6, De Mortal. 13) and the translator of Irenaeus (5:1. 3:1); they have ‘pricke of my flesh.’ Between these come Tyndale ‘unquyetnes of the flesshe,’ Coverdale ‘warnynge geven unto my flesh,’ Cranmer ‘unquyetnes thorow the flesshe,’ and the Genevan ‘pricke in the fleshe.’ No one now would adopt either ‘of’ or ‘through,’ but ‘unto’ is not very different from ‘for.’ See Winer, p. 276, and Waite, ad loc.
2. For the translation of σκόλοψ we are offered ‘stake,’ ‘spike,’ ‘splinter,’ and ‘thorn.’ The choice really lies between ‘stake’ and ‘thorn,’ i.e. between a very large and a comparatively small cause of bodily pain. In class. Grk. the common meaning of σκόλοψ is ‘stake,’ either for palisading or impaling, and a stake for impalement is a very vivid metaphor for intense physical suffering. Hence σκόλοψ was sometimes used of the cross (Orig. c. Cels. ii. 68) and ἀνασκολοπίζω of crucifixion (Eus. H.E. ii. 25). Tertullian twice has sudes as a translation (De Fuga in Pro_2; De Pudic. 13). Luther has Pfahl ins Fleish, Beza surculus infixus carni. In his essay at the end of Gal. 4., Lightfoot interprets the expression as “a stake driven through the flesh.” Stanley (ad loc.) and Ramsay (St Paul, p. 97) decide for ‘stake’ rather than ‘thorn’; and Beet, Emmet, Klöpper, Massie, A. T. Robertson, Waite, Way, Weymouth adopt this rendering. But Alford, Bachmann, Bousset, Conybeare and Howson, Cornely, Field, Findlay, Heinrici, Krenkel, Lietzmann, McFadyen, Menzies, Meyer, F. W. Robertson, Schaff, and Schmiedel abide by the usual rendering, ‘thorn.’ Farrar (St Paul, i. p. 221) tries to keep both; “impalement … by this wounding splinter.”
In LXX σκόλοψ occurs four times, σκόλοπες ἐν τοῖς ὀφθαλμοῖς ὑμῶν καὶ βολίδες ἐν ταῖς πλευραῖς ὑμῶν (Numbers 33:55). οὐκ ἔσονται οὐκέτι ἐν ὄκῳ τοῦ Ἰσραὴλ σκόλοψ πικρίας καὶ ἄκανθα ὀδύνης (Ezekiel 28:24). ἐγὼ φράσσω τὴν ὁδὸν αὐτῆς ἐν σκόλοψιν (Hosea 2:6). καὶ πάχνην ὡς ἅλα ἐπὶ γῆς χέει, καὶ παγεῖσα γίνεται σκολόπων ἄκρα (Ecclus. 43:19). ‘Thorn’ or ‘splinter’ seems to be the meaning in all four passages, but ‘stake’ might be the meaning in Hosea 2:6. Yet we cannot be sure that one and the same rendering is right in all four places, for, in the first three, σκόλοψ represents three different Hebrew words. It is not impossible that Numbers 33:55 is the source of St Paul’s expression, and in that case we have an answer to the objection urged against ‘thorn,’ that it is not so suitable as ‘stake’ to represent intense pain.* But in all the renderings, it is the idea of acuteness that seems to be primary, and a thorn or a splinter or a spike may be sharper than a stake.
3. It is over the third question that there has been most discussion, with as much disagreement about the answer as in the other two cases. But the attempt to answer this question raises a fourth, which can be decided with considerable probability, yet, as in the other cases, without certainty. The σκόλοψ τῇ σαρκί is a metaphor for some kind of suffering. Is it the same as the ἀσθένεια τῆς σαρκός and the πειρασμὸς ὑμῶν ἐν τῆ σαρκί μου of Galatians 4:13, Galatians 4:14? It is commonly assumed that it is the same, and this view has much to commend it. But nothing approaching to proof is possible, and of the numerous conjectures as to what the form of this suffering was, one may be true of the σκόλοψ, while something quite different may be true of the ἀσθένεια. Unfortunately we have to confess that in neither case can we be at all certain as to what is true. Nevertheless, some negative results may be confidently maintained.
The Apostle is not referring to any individual, who was a ‘thorn in his side’ to him, whether Alexander the coppersmith (2 Timothy 4:14), as Ephraem Syrus thought, or anyone else, (11:15), as Chrysostom. That he is referring to sufferings caused by persecution is given by various Greek Fathers and one or two Latins as the explanation of the σκόλοψ. But it cannot be right. Others besides St Paul suffered greatly from persecution, and the σκόλοψ was something specially bestowed by God for his personal benefit, to counteract temptations that might be provoked by the special revelations. Moreover, he would not have prayed to be freed from persecutions. This theory continued to be held by a writer here and there, but it was at last driven from the field by an equally erroneous explanation.
When a knowledge of Greek became rare in the West, the N.T., was studied in the Vulgate, in which Jerome had left stimulus carnis uncorrected. He understood the σκόλοψ to mean bodily pain, but stimulus catnis suggested to others temptations to impurity. The explanation about persecutions may have been fostered by the fact that all Christendom had been suffering from the horrors of the Diocletian persecution; and it is evident that the theory about carnal desires having been the Apostle’s great trial spread widely at a time when monasticism accentuated the danger of temptations of the flesh. In each case men supposed that St Paul’s special affliction was akin to what was a special trouble to themselves. This view of the stimulus carnis became almost universal in the West, until Cornelius a Lapide (d. 1637) says that it is communis fidelium sensus. Luther’s passionate rejection of it is well known, and Calvin condemns it as ridiculous. St Paul tells us that the ἴδιον χάρισμα ἐκ Θεοῦ which he received was being able to do without marriage; see on 1 Corinthians 7:7-9. And if it had been otherwise, he would not have regarded sexual desire as a ‘weakness’ in which he could glory. No Greek Father adopts this view, and it is doubtful whether any Latin writer of the first six centuries does. The statement that Jerome, Augustine, and Salvian do so is erroneous. Jerome says bodily pain, Augustine persecution, and Salvian nothing; he nowhere quotes or explains the passage.
Since the Reformation, spiritual trials, such as temptations to unbelief or despair, have been a favourite hypothesis. But they fit this passage badly, and Galatians 4:13, Galatians 4:14 not at all. St Paul nowhere hints at such difficulties, nor would he have gloried in them from any point of view. It is those who have themselves been tormented by such things that have imagined them as the special trial of the Apostle.
Of these three lines of thought we may say that St Paul would not have prayed to be freed from persecutions, and that he would not have been told to cease to pray against evil concupiscence or unbelief.
Modern writers generally go back to the earliest tradition that the σκόλοψ was some acute malady, so painful and such a hindrance to the spread of the Gospel as to be regarded as the work of the devil. But it was sent by God at intervals as a disciplinary reminder, to preserve His Apostle from spiritual pride. It was in this aspect that Jerome compared it to the slave behind the victorious commander in his triumphal chariot, whispering at intervals, Hominem to esse memento (Ep. xxxix. 2). Thus much we learn from this passage about the σκόλοψ τῆ σαρκί. From Galatians 4:13, Galatians 4:14, we gather that the ἀσθενεία τὴς σαρκός which kept St Paul in Galatia was such as to tempt the Galatians to regard him with contempt and disgust, a temptation which they triumphantly overcame, treating him with the utmost consideration and affection. Any acute and recurrent malady will suit 2 Corinthians 12:7, but for Galatians 4:13, Galatians 4:14, we require something likely to inspire those who witness it with repulsion. The conjectures which fit Galatians 4:13, Galatians 4:14 well, and might also be true of 2 Corinthians 12:7, are epilepsy, acute ophthalmia, malarial fever, and some forms of hysteria.* Epilepsy has the support of Lightfoot, Schaff, Findlay, Bousset, Hofmann, Holsten, Klöpper, and others. Since Max Krenkel’s Essay in his Beiträge zur Aufhellung der Geschichte and der Briefe des Apostels Paulus, 1890, this conjecture of K. L. Ziegler in Theologische Abhandlungen, 1804, has become widespread. The objection that epilepsy commonly produces mental deterioration is not wholly disposed of by the cases of Julius Caesar, Mahomet, Cromwell, and Napoleon, for we are not certain that the attacks from which they occasionally suffered were epileptic. A more serious objection is that such attacks are not acutely painful. Ophthalmia is adopted by Farrar, Lewin, Plumptre; malarial fever by Ramsay and Emmet; hysteria by Lombard. When all the arguments for and against these and other guesses have been considered, the fact remains that we still do not know, for the evidence is insufficient. See Enc. Bib. iii. 3620; Zahn, Int. to N.T. i. p. 171; Lietzmann, ad loc.
ἄγγελος Σατανᾶ. ‘A messenger of Satan’ or ‘an angel of Satan.’ The σκόλοψ is here personified. Wiclif and the Rhemish have ‘angel,’ other English Versions, including AV and RV., have ‘messenger.’ That Stan has angels was a common belief among the Jews (Revelation 12:7-9; cf. Matthew 9:34, Matthew 9:12: 24 = Luke 11:15), and it is not disturbed by Christ (Matthew 25:41). In the Ep. of Barnabas (18:1) ἄγγελοι τοῦ Θεοῦ are opposed by ἄγγελοι τοῦ Σατανᾶ. Cf. Enoch 3:3; Jubilees 10:2.
That what was the will of God for good purposes might be done by Satan for evil purposes is an idea that is also found among the Jews, as in Job 1:12, Job 2:6, and in 2 Samuel 24:1, when compared with 1 Chronicles 21:1; also that Satan may be a cause of physical suffering, a belief which is not disturbed by Christ; see on Luke 13:11, Luke 13:16.*
With the reading Σατάν (see below), which is indeclinable and amy be nom. or gen., some would translate ‘the angel Satan,’ but that would require ὃ ἄγγελος Σ. Others would translate ‘a hostile angel,’ which is grammatically possible, but not probable, for in N.T. Satan is always a proper name. In LXX σατάν is sometimes ‘an adversary’; e.g. ἤγειρεν Κύριος σατὰν τῷ Σαλωμὼν τὸν Ἀδὲρ τὸν Ἰδυμαῖον (1 Kings 11:14); but the reading σατάν here is to be rejected.
ἵνα με κολαφίζη. ‘In order that he (the messenger) may buffet me.’ The present tense, as Chrysostom and Theodoret point out, implies freq. attacks. The fact that ἄγγελος immediately precedes this clause saves us from mixture of metaphors; a stake or thorn cannot ‘strike with the first,’ but a messenger can. Κόλαφος is said to be the Doric equivalent of the Attic κόνδυλος. The verb is said to be the Doric equivalent of the Attic κόνδυλος. The verb is late Greek and perhaps colloquial; see on 1 Corinthians 4:11 and cf. Mark 14:65; Matthew 26:67; 1 Peter 2:20; also Index IV.†
ἵνα μὴ ὑπεραίρωμαι. Emphatic repetition of the purpose of the σκόλοψ, which must be remembered side by side with Satan’s share in the mater. In both cases we have pres. subjunct. of what was continually going on: there was ferq. buffeting to counteract freq. temptation. But this does not imply that the revelations were freq. One revelation might occasion many temptations. Contrast the aorists in Revelation 18:4; ἵνα μή is specially freq. in 1 and 2 Cor.
Baljon proposes to omit καὶ τῇ ὑπερβολῇ τῶν ἀποκαλύψεων as a gloss, but no witnesses omit the words. Nor can the perplexing διό be omitted, although D E K P L, Latt. Syrr., Iren. Aug. moit, for it is found in א A B F G 17. The omission is “a characteristic Werstern attempt to deal with a difficulty by excision” (WH.).There is more to be said for the excision of the second ἵνα μὴ ὑπεραίρωμαι, which א * A D E G 17, Latt. Aeth., Iren. Tert. Aug. omit; but the omission is probably another attempt at simplifying the text. Σατανᾶ (א* A * B D * F G 17, 67 * *, Latt. Copt., Orig.) rather than Σατάν (א3 A * * D2 and 3 E K L P), which is rare in LXX and is found nowhere in N.T.
8. ὑπὲρ τούτου … ἵνα ἀποστῇ. ‘Concerning this foe … that he might depart from me.’ The personification still continues, as is shown by ἀποσῇ, the nom. to which is not σκόλοψ but ἄγγελος Σατανᾶ. Ἀφίστημι in N.T. is always used of persons; 1 Timothy 4:1; 2 Timothy 2:19; Hebrews 3:12; and very often in Lk. and Acts. Cf. esp. ὁ διάβολος ἀπέστη ἀπʼ αὐτοῦ (Luke 4:13), and ἀπέστη ὁ ἄγγελος ἀπʼ αὐτοῦ (Acts 12:10), and ἀπέστησαν ἀπʼ αὐτοῦ οἱ μέλλοντες αὐτὸν ἀνετάζειν (Acts 22:29). Following the Vulg. propter quod, Beza super quod, and Luther Dafür, both AV and RV have ‘this thing’ for τούτου, and neither has ‘thing’ in italics. This use of ὑπέρ, in which the meaning ‘in the interest of,’ ‘in behalf of’ (1:6, 11, 5:15, etc.) disappears, occurs several times in 2 Cor. (1:8, 7:4, 14, 8:23, 24, 9:2, 3, 12:5); cf. 1 Thessalonians 2:1. The Latin equivalent is super with the abl.; multa super Priamo rogitans, super Hectore multa (Virg. Aen. i . 750), and mitte civiles super urbe curas (Hor. Od. III. viii. 17).
τρὶς τὸν κύριον παρεκάλεσα. Such expressions as τρὶς μάκαρες καὶ τετράκις, terque quaterque beati, do not justify us in following Chrysostom and Calvin, who take τρίς as meaning ‘often’ Why not say πολλάκις (8:22, 9:23, 26, 27)? It is more natural to understand τρίς literally, and with Bengel to compare our Lord’s three prayers in Gethsemane. In each case the great trouble was not removed, but strength to bear it was given. It is fanciful to connect Acts 16:6, Acts 16:7, Acts 16:9 with these three petitions. As in the case of the ‘visions and revelations,’ we have no means of knowing how to fit them into the narrative in Acts. ‘The Lord’ no doubt means Christ, as is shown by ἡ δύναμις τοῦ Χριστοῦ (v. 9); and this use of παρακαλέω is analogous to the freq. use in the Gospels of those who besought Christ for help (Mark 1:40, Mark 1:5:18, Mark 1:23, Mark 1:6:56, Mark 1:7:32, Mark 1:8:22; etc.). Elsewhere it is freq. of beseeching or exhorting men (2:8, 6:1, 8:6, 9:5, etc.), but not of prayer to God, though Josephus so uses it (Ant. vi. ii. 2). St Paul is not intimating that Christ is man and not God, but he may be implying that on these occasions there was personal communication with the Lord (Stanley). How the communication was made, it is impossible to know; neque magnopere refert (Calvin). Deissmann (Light from Ant. East, p. 311) gives an interesting parallel. M. Julius Apellas states on a marble stele how he was several times cured at the shrine of Aesculapius in Epidaurus, and concerning one of his maladies he says, καὶ περὶ τούτου παρεκαίλεσα τὸν θεόν. But it is a large inference to draw from this that St Paul “clothes’ what he tells us here “in the style of the ancient texts relating to healing.” Was there any fixed style in such things? If so, did St Paul know it? If so, did it influence him here? The influence of the Gospel narratives is more probable.
9. καἰ εἴρηκέν μοι. ‘And He hath said to me.’ He said it then and the answer still stands, it holds good. It is frequently used of the Divine utterances; Acts 13:34; Hebrews 1:13, Hebrews 1:4:3, Hebrews 1:4, Hebrews 1:10:9, Hebrews 1:13, Hebrews 1:13:5. Cf. γέγραπται, ‘it stands written.’ See on ἐγήγερται, 1 Corinthians 15:4.
Ἀρκεῖ σοι ἡ χάρις μου. The thing prayed for is refused, but something much better is bestowed. See on χάρις 1 Corinthians 15:10. This Divine gift is perpetually sufficient, good for his whole life. We have here another example of chiasmus; cf. 2:16, 4:3, 6:8, 9:6, 10:12. In connexion with what follows see on 4:10.
ἡ γὰρ δύναμις ἐν ἀσθενείᾳ τελεῖται. ‘Where there is weakness, strength reaches completeness.’ Where human strength abounds, the effects of Divine power may be overlooked. It is easy to forget Providence in reading history, but we do not obtain a more scientific view by leaving God out of the account. Where it is manifest that man was powerless, God’s power becomes, not more real, but more evident; 4:7, 13:4; see on 1 Corinthians 1:25, 1 Corinthians 1:2:3, 1 Corinthians 1:4. Bede shows how this truth was illustrated in the cases of Ethelberga and Hilda (H.E. ix. 9, 21). * Gratia esse potest, etiam ubi maximus doloris sensus est (Beng.); but the χάρις does not mean the χάρισμα ἰμάτων, so that, though he was not healed himself, he was allowed the power of healing others (Chrys.). On the refusal of such requests; frequenter Quae putamus prosperaobsunt: ideo non conceduntur Deo melius providente (Pseudo—Primasius on Romans 8:26). The Lord’s reply convinced the Apostle that this grievous affliction would not hinder his work; he may even have been convinced that it was a condition of success. That it was the Lord’s doing, and not his, showed that he might glory in it. How the Lord conveyed this reply to him, we are not told; but to St Paul it was real, and it is not extravagant to believe that, as on the road to Damascus, Christ conversed with him.
Here the verse should end; see on 1 Corinthians 12:23 for a similarly unfortunate division. In this Epistle most of the earlier chapters are badly divided.
Ἥδιστα οὗν μᾶλλον καυχήσομαι ἐν ταῖς ἀσθενείαις. Most gladly therefore (because of the Lord’s reply) will I rather glory in my weaknesses (than pray that they may be removed). The order of the words is important. We have not got μᾶλλον ἐν ταῖς ἀσθενείαις καυχ., and we must not interpret ‘will I glory in my weaknesses rather than in the revelations granted to me.’ Nor must we make μᾶλλον strengthen ἥδιστα: μᾶλλον may strengthen comparatives (Php 1:23), but not superlatives. Blass, § 44:5; Winer, p. 300.
ἵνα ἐπισκηνώσῃ ἐπʼ ἐμὲ ἡ δύναμις τοῦ Χριστοῦ. A bold metaphor, which may possibly be intended to suggest the Shechinah (see on Luke 9:34); ‘That the strength of the Christ may tabernacle upon me.’ Κατασκνηνόω is very freq. in LXX, but ἐπισκηνόω is found nowhere else in Bibl. Grk. The translations of δύναμις in this verse and of δυνατός in v. 10 should be uniform. AV has ‘strength,’ ‘power,’ ‘strong’; RV. has ‘power,’ ‘strength’ ‘strong’; better, ‘strength’ ‘strength,’ ‘strong.’ Vulg. has virtus, virtus, potens; Beza has potentia, potentia, potens.
ἡ γὰρ δύναμις (א * A * B D * G, Latt.) rather than ἡ γὰρ δύναμίς μου (א 3 A2 D2 and 3 E K L P, Syrr. Copt.): τελειοῦται (א* A B D* G) rather than τελειοῦται (א3. D3 K L1 P). Both verbs are freq. in LXX and translate the same Heb, words; both occur in John 19:28, and both are fairly common in N,T. B 67**, Syr.Hark. Copt. Arm., Iren. omit μου after ἀσθενείαις, and insertion is more probable than omission.
10. διὸ εὐδοκῶ ἐν ἀσθενείαις. ‘Wherefore I am well pleased in weaknesses,’ because it is precisely in them that the strength of Christ is conspicuous. Polybius and other secular authors write εὐδοκῶ τινι. In LXX and N.T. we commonly have εὐδ. ἐν, but the simple dat. occurs 2 Thessalonians 2:12 (according to the best texts); 1 Macc. 1:43; 1 Esdr. 4:39; cf. Romans 1:32. See Abbott, Johannine Grammar, p. 387. In Matthew 12:18 and Hebrews 10:6 we have the acc. Now follow four kinds of ‘weaknesses.’
ἰν ὕβρεσιν. In LXX, as in class. Grk., the word is freq.; in N.T. only here and Acts 27:10, Acts 27:12. The plur. is comparatively rare; in LXX, only Ecclus. 10:8; ‘Sovereignty is transferred from one nation to another διὰ ὕβρεις.’ The word implies wanton injury, insolent maltreatment, and therefore it is occasionally used of the apparently wanton damage done by storms, as in Acts. Josephus (Ant. III. vi. 4) says that the Tabernacle was protected by coverings against τὴν ἀπὸ τῶν ὄμΒρων ὕΒριν. For στενο ωρίαις see on 6:4; in Romans 8:35, as here, the word is connected with διωγμός.
ὑπὲρ χριστοῦ. It is for Christ’s sake (v. 20) that he is well pleased in weaknesses. This is better than taking ὑπὲρ Χριστοῦ with each of the four datives, although the difference in meaning is not great. When he knows that it is not the Lord’s will that he should be freed from his afflictions, he not only does not grieve, but for Christ’s sake is well pleased.
ὅταν γὰρ ἀσθενῳ τότε δυνατός εἰμι. ‘For whenever I am weak, then I am strong.’ Cf. βοῶσα τοῖς ἐν σνμφοραῖς, Μὴ ἀναπίπτετε, τό ἀσθενὲς ὑμῶν δύναμίς ἐστιν (Philo, Vita Moys. i. 13, p. 92, Mang.). The γάρ introduces the reason why he rejoices in his weaknesses. In his letter to Eustochium (Ep. cviii. 19), Jerome writes; quando infirmor tunc fortior sum. With this paradoxical outburst of triumph this paragraph closes. Experience has taught him, and has taught those who have been witnesses of his work, how much he can accomplish when he is apparently disabled by his infirmities and afflictions; that shows how amply the Divine declaration is justified, Ἀρκεῖ σοι ἡ χάρις μου. To glory in these things is to glory in the strength of Christ.
F, Vulg, but not f, insert μου after ἀσθενείαις, as these and other authorities do in v. 5, and some in v. 9. ἐν ἀνάλκαις rather than καὶ ἀναλ. (א, Orig.); but καὶ στενοχωρίαις (א* B) rather than ἐν στεν. (א3 D E G K L P, Latt.). A omits ἐν διωγμοῖς.
12:11-18. The Credentials of an Apostle; Exceptional Signs and Exceptional Love
That I have become a fool by glorying is your fault; for you have not been loyal to one whom you might know to be an Apostle by the mighty works and the exceeding love which he showed to you.
11I have been making a fool of myself by writing in this glorying fashion. but I am not to blame for it. It was you who drove me to do it; for you gave support to my opponents, when you ought loyally to have commended me. I had a right to expect this from you for in no single thing was I inferior to those pre-eminent apostles of yours, although as a matter of fact I am nothing. 12 The signs, yes, the signs which mark the true Apostle, were wrought out in your midst,—and the endurance of all that they cost me never failed,—in works of significance, works of wonder, and works of power. 13You think that I have treated you badly. Well, in what respect were you put in a position of inferiority to my other Churches, except it be that I myself did not ‘sponge’ on you? Of your generosity, pray forgive me this dreadful wrong!
14Behold that I am ready to come to you now for the third time; and you will find that, as on the two former visits, I shall not ‘sponge’ on you. For what I am seeking is not your possessions for myself, but yourselves for Christ. Do you ask why I refuse your possessions? Because you are my children, and there is no such obligation on children to provide for their parents as on parents to provide for their children.15That is generally admitted; but as for myself, most gladly will I spend what I have, and be utterly spent myself, for the good of your souls. Then, if my love for you exceeds that of fathers, am I to be loved less? That would indeed be a strange requital. 16 But you say, “We let that pass.” You admit that I did not myself come down on you for maintenance, but you insinuate that, like the cunning knave that I am always supposed to be, I entrapped you in other ways by the crafty employment of agents. 17Did I? By means of any of those whom I sent to you did I take unfair advantage of you? 18I asked Titus to visit you, and with him I sent the brother whom you know. Did Titus take any unfair advantage of you? No one would venture to insinuate that. And was there any difference between his guiding principle and mine? Was there any difference between his conduct and mine?
11. Γέγονα ἄφρων. There is a pause in the flow of impassioned language. The Apostle stops a moment in his dictation and reflects on what he has just been saying. He had warned the Corinthians that in praising himself he would be acting like a fool; they must make allowance for that, or at least allow him as much consideration as they would allow to a fool (11:1, 16). He now says emphatically, ‘I verily am become a fool.’ He is not sarcastically quoting Corinthian criticism; he is seriously making a criticism on himself. Γέγονα is emphatic, and as in Rev_17 (γέγονεν) and 21:6 ονγέγόαν), means that what was expected or predicted has come to pass. The sentence is not a question. He admits the folly, but at once throws the responsibility for it on the Corinthians. In the next two clauses all the pronouns are emphatic, excepting the enclitic με.
ὑμεῖς με ἠναγκάσατε· ἐγὼ γὰρ ὤφειλον ὑφʼ ὑμῶν συνίστασθαι. ‘It was you who compelled me, for I ought to have been commended by you.’ If the Corinthians had shown a decent appreciation of the Apostle’s work among them, they would never have tolerated the sneers and insinuations which the Judaizers used in discrediting him; they would have testified strongly in his favour. Instead of that, they commended the people who attacked him. He was thereby compelled, greatly against his will, to commend himself, in order to free the Corinthians from the malign influence of his detractors. But for this reason, he would never have stooped to such folly. Cf. Livy, xxxviii. 29; Mihi, quaeso, ita ignoscatis, Patres Conscripti, silongiorem orationem non eupiditas gloriandi de me, sed necessaria criminum defensio facit.
In 3:2 he told the Corinthians that they themselves were his commendatory letter, known and read by all men. How strange that he should now say that they had failed even to speak in his favour, when his enemies assailed him! If this severe charge was made in an earlier letter, and the high praise of 3:2 f. was written in a latter letter, after he and the Corinthians had become reconciled, all runs smoothly.
ὤφειλον … συνίστασφαι. ‘I had a right to commendation; it was a debt owed to me by you.’ Contrast δεῖ (11:30.), ‘he must glory,’ not because it is his duty, but because circumstances force him to do so; and also v. 10, where ‘must’ depends upon Divine decree.
οὐδὲν γὰρ ὑστέρησα. ‘You might have commended me with a good conscience, for in nothing was I inferior to your precious apostles.’ The aor. refers to the time when he was living at Corinth. See on 11:5; here it is even more clear than there that St. Paul is not speaking of the Twelve, but of the Judaizing missionaries. Οὐδέν is emphatic; ‘in no single thing.’
εἰ καί οὐδέν εἰμι. Chrysostom takes this clause as introductory to v. 12; so also Tyndale and Coverdale, and Hofmann among moderns. But Vulg., the Reformers, and almost all English Versions take it as the conclusion of v. 11. The μέν. and the very awkward asyndeton which arises if εἰ καί is prefixed to v. 12, are decisive against this arrangement. Chrys. seems to have had no μέν in his text. The words are an appropriate conclusion to v. 11. ‘There is no bragging in saying that one is not inferior to such people; even a nobody may do that; and, apart from what Christ does in him, he is a nobody.’ Cf. 1 Corinthians 3:7, 1 Corinthians 13:2, 1 Corinthians 15:9.
L P, Syrr. Goth. add κανχώμενος after ἄφρων. א A B D E G K, Latt. omit.
12. τὰ μὲν σημεῖα τοῦ ἀποστόλου κατειργάσθη ἐν ὑμῖν. ‘Truly the signs of an Apostle were wrought out (4:17, 5:15, 7:10, 9:11) among you.’ The change to the passive is to be noted. He does not say that he wrought them, for he was only God’s instrument. ὑπομονή (see on 1:6) was his, but the especial testimony to the reality of his Apostleship came from God. See on 6:4 and on Luke 21:19; Lightfoot on Colossians 1:11, Colossians 1:3:12; Westcott on Hebrews 6:12. What special form of suffering gave the opportunity for this ὑπομονή? Did the σημεῖα provoke persecution? Or did the working of extraordinary acts of healing cause great physical exhaustion? The latter would seem to be appropriate, but discouragements and difficulties of various kinds may be in his mind. On ‘the Signs of an Apostle’ see Lightfoot, Galatians, p. 99. In English we must say ‘an Apostle,’ for the art. is generic, as in Matthew 18:17. Winer, pp. 132, 217. In the true text there is no ἐν before σημείοις and therefore we must not connect ἐν πάσῃ ὑπομονῇ with σημείοις .
ἐν ὑμῖν. Of all his converts the Corinthians had the best assurance that he was a true Apostle; 1 Corinthians 9:2. They knew what they had been as heathen and what his teaching had made them. Moreover, Christ had commissioned the Twelve to work miracles, and St Paul had worked miracles at Corinth.
σημείοις [ρε] καὶ τέρασί καὶ δυνάμεσιν. Evidently σημειᾶ is here used with some change of meaning. In the previous clause it is a generic term, here a specific one. ‘The signs of an Apostle’ include the spiritual gifts with which God had richly endowed him, and which he was able to impart to many of his hearers; the effectiveness of his preaching was a very convincing sign (3:2; 1 Corinthians 2:4, 1 Corinthians 9:2). They also include ‘signs’ in the narrow sense; χαρίσματα ἰαμάτων of an extraordinary kind. It is to the other kind of σημεῖα that St Paul commonly appeals; but elsewhere he appeals to these supernatural powers (1 Corinthians 14:18, 1 Corinthians 14:19; Galatians 3:5; Romans 15:19).* In Romans 15:19, as in 2 Thessalonians 2:9 and Hebrews 2:4, we have the same threefold enumeration as here; cf. Acts 2:22. In N.T., and especially in the Fourth Gospel, supernatural works are often called σημεῖα without τέρατα being coupled with σημεῖα, but never τέρατα without σημεῖα; they are always Divine tokens, with an instructive purpose, and they are products of Divine power (δυνάμεις); but they are never mere wonders, things which astonish but do not instruct. † St Paul had possibly three different kinds of miracles in his mind in this threefold enumeration, but we have no means of knowing how he classified them. See Trench, Syn. § xci.
It is important to notice that in none of the passages cited does St Paul write for the purpose of inducing people to believe in miracles. The mighty works are mentioned incidentally for other reasons. He appeals to them as well-known facts. He assumes that Galatians, Corinthians, and Romans know quite well that miracles do happen, and that he has worked many in their presence. It is incredible that he should have said this, it neither he nor any other Apostle had ever done anything of the kind; and that all were works of healing is an assumption.
κατειργάσθη א A B 3 K L) rather than κατηργάσθη (B* G) or κατηργάσθην (D E). But see WH. App. p. 161. It is difficult to decide between σημείοις τε (B א 17, 73) and σημείοις (א1 A D 71, d e f). Neither ἐν σημ. (D E K L P) nor καὶ σημ. (G, g) is likely to be right.
13. τί γάρ ἐστιν ὅ ἡσσώθητε … οὐ κατενάρκησα ὑμῶν; ‘For what is there wherein ye were made inferior to the rest of the Churches, except it be that I myself did not burden you by claiming maintenance?’ See on 11:9. He comes back to the subject of his refusing to take money or maintenance from them owing to the mention of ‘the overmuch apostles’ in v. 11. It was one of the undeniable contrasts between them and him, that they claimed and took maintenance, while he refused it when offered. See on 1 Corinthians 9:12. On the form ἡσσώθητε see WH. App. p. 166b, and cf. Hdt. vii. 166, viii. 75. For ὑπέρ in the sense of ‘beyond’ after verbs of comparison see on Luke 16:8, and cf. Galatians 1:14; Hebrews 4:12; Jdg 11:25; 1 Kings 19:4. As in 10:1, the force of αὐτὸς ἐγώ is not clear. It may mean ‘I myself,’ as distinct from ‘the signs of an Apostle’; his critics contended that it was the sign of an Apostle to receive maintenance. Or, less probably, it may mean that some of his colleagues had accepted maintenance; see on 1 Corinthians 9:6. The Churches are local Churches (8:1, 18, 11:8, 28, etc.).
χαρίσασθέ μοι τὴν ἀδικίαν ταύτην. Of course his refusing to be supported by them was an advantage to the Corinthians. With playful irony he treats it as if it were an injury, and asks them to forgive it. * Cf. 2:10; Colossians 2:13; Luke 7:21, where Bengel calls ἐχαρίσατο magnificum verbum. In what follows he affectionately warns them that he will have to continue to inflict this ‘injury’ on them. All this shows that he is addressing the whole Corinthian Church. The change of tone in these chapters cannot be explained by the supposition that 1-19. is addressed to the loyal members, while 10-13. is addressed to the rebellious, for the supposition is untenable.
ἡσσώθητε (א* B D*) after the analogy of ἐλασσόω, rather than ἡττήθητε (א3 A D3 K L P), from ἡττάω, or ἐλατώθηται (G).
14. Ἰδοὺ τρίτον τοῦτο ἑτοίμως ἔχω ἐλθεῖν πρὸς ὑμᾶς. ‘Behold this is the third visit that I am preparing to pay you.’ Or, ‘See I am now in readiness to come to you for the third time.’ By position τρίτον is emphatic, and τρίτον τοῦτο is ace. abs. Cf. τοῦτο ἤδη τρίτον ἐφανερώθη ὁ Ἰησοῦς (John 21:14): τοῦτο τρίτον ἐπλάνησάς με (Jdg 16:15): πέπαικάς με τοῦτο may be taken with either ἐτοίμως ἔχω or ἐλθεῖν. We may translate, ‘This is the third time that I am making preparations to come to you’; but such a meaning does not agree with the unquestioned fact that he had already paid at least one visit. If he had never visited Corinth, but had twice before made preparations to come, then ‘This is the third time that I am making preparations to come to you’ would be a very natural thing to say; but it is not a natural thing to say if he had paid one visit, had prepared to come again, and now for a second time was preparing to come again. The only natural meaning of 13:1 is that he is about to pay a third visit, and therefore the first translation of these words is the right one. The second visit was the short one ἐν λύπη· see on 2:1, Lightfoot, Biblical Essays, p. 274, and Conybeare and Howson, ch. xv.
The objection that ἑτοίμως ἔχω comes between τρίτον τουτο and ἐλθεῖν, and that therefore τρίτον τοῦτο cannot be taken with ἐλθεῖν, is baseless, as Acts 21:13 shows, where ἑτοίμως ἔχω comes between ἀποθανεῖν and ὑπὲρ τοῦ ὀνόματος. Krenkel (Beiträge, p. 185) gives numerous examples from classical and other writers. Deissmann (Bib. St. p. 252) says that numerous examples exist of ἐτοίμως ἔχω in the Fayyüm documents and elsewhere; but he quotes none, so that we cannot compare the position of ἑτοίμως ἔχω in the sentence with its position here.
καὶ οὐ καταναρκήσω. On this third visit he intends to be as independent as on the first and second; he will not ‘sponge’ On them. We must carry τρίτον τοῦτο On to οὐ καταναρκήσω in thought, if not in construction. As before, he will abstain from putting on them the benumbing pressure of having to provide for his necessities. It is possible that καταναρκάω had an invidious sound, like our ‘sponge,’ and that for this reason he harps on the word. His opponents did ‘sponge’ on the Corinthians; he must absolutely refuse to do so. The Revisers rightly omit ὑμῶν from their Greek text, but do not put ‘to you’ in italics.
οὐ γάρ ζητῶ τὰ ὑμῶν ἀλλὰ ὑμᾶς. Some of them had thought that it was because he cared so little about them that he would not accept anything from them (11:2): he says that he cares too much about them to care about their possessions. Not that he selfishly wants them for his own glory or gratification; he seeks to present them as a spouse to Christ (11:2). They are quite mistaken in thinking that he will take nothing from them; he wants the very best that they have to give,—themselves. ‘I seek greater things; souls instead of goods, instead of gold your salvation’ (Chrys.). The pres. tense indicates his habitual aim; he is always seeking to win them. Cf. Matthew 18:15 and see on 1 Corinthians 9:19. His other reasons for refusing support have been discussed 11:7-15.
οὐ γάρ ὀφείλει τὰ τέκνα τοῖς γονεῦσιν. He appeals to nature and common sense; see on ὤφειλον (v. 11); ὀφείλει is not impersonal; τὰ τέκνα is the subject. As regards making provision for the needs of others, it is parents who are under anobligation to provide for their children rather than children to provide for their parents. That is the normal state of things. He does not, of course, mean that children are under no obligation to support their parents. Very often one of two alternatives is in form negatived, not in order to exclude it absolutely, but to show its inferiority to the other alternative; cf. Mark 2:17, Mark 2:6:4, Mark 2:9:37; Luke 10:20, Luke 10:14:12, Luke 10:23:28; John 12:44; Hosea 6:6. Blass, § 77. 12. The Corinthians are his children (1 Corinthians 4:14, 1 Corinthians 4:15).
θησαυρίζειν. ‘To lay up treasure,’ ‘to accumulate money’ ; 1 Corinthians 16:2; Matthew 6:19-21; Jam 5:3. He does not say ‘support’ or ‘help,’ which would have been far less true, and would have run counter to Christ’s teaching about Corban. For children to be under an obligation to help their parents is not uncommon; but that they should be bound to lay up money for them, though possible, is an abnormal condition of things. St Paul allowed his Macedonian children to contribute to his support (11:9), and he told the Corinthians to lay by money for the poor Christians in Palestine (1 Corinthians 16:2), but he neither required nor tolerated that any converts should raise a fund for his support.
K L P omit τοῦτο after τρίτον, and D E, Copt. Arm. have τοῦτο before τρίτον. τρίτον τοῦτο is doubtless right (א A B F G d e f g Vulg. Goth. Syrr. Aeth. After καταναρκήσω, D 3 E K L, Latt. add ὑμῶν, and D* G add ὑμᾶς. After ὑμᾶς א A B 17 omit.
15. ἐλὼ δὲ ἥδιστα δαπανήσω καὶ ἐκδαπανηθήσομαι ὑπὲρ τῶν ψυχῶν ὑμῶν. ‘But I, I will most gladly (v. 9), spend and be utterly spent for the good of your souls’; ἐγὼ δὲ τῶν φύσεζ πατέρων καὶ πλέον τι ποιεῖν ἐπαγγέλλομαι (Thdrt.). The ἐλώ is very emphatic; he is ready to do more than a parent’s duty, and to do it with delight. He will spend all he has, and exhaust all his strength, for his children; he is willing to ‘be spent right out’ for them. This is his answer to the question raised in 11:11; and he intimates that his love will not be extinguished, if it meets with no response. Cf. Mark 10:45; John 10:11, John 10:15. With the rhetorical antithesis between δαπανήσω and ἐκδαπανηθήομαι comp. that between ἔξεστιν and ἐξουσιασθήσομαι, ‘I may make free with all things, but I shall not let anything make free with me’; see on 1 Corinthians 6:12. The δέ is ‘But’ rather than ‘And’ (AV, RV); he contrasts his own. personal intentions with ordinary parental duties.
ἐι περισσοτέρως ὑμᾶς ἀγαπως, ἧσσον ἀγαπῶμαι; ‘If I love you more abundantly, am I loved the less?’ ‘Are you going to let your love diminish as fast as my love increases? That would be a strange kind of return to make, a strange instance of inverse proportion! ‘It is not quite certain that the sentence is interogative, but to take it as a question gives it more life and vigour. We may make it dependent on the previous sentence; ‘I will most gladly be utterly spent for your souls, if the more abundantly I love you, the less I am loved.’ Reading ἀγαπῶν the meaning would be, ‘But I for my part will most gladly spend and be wholly spent for your salvation, if, loving you the more, I am loved the less.’ Alford quotes; animaeque magnae prodigum Paulium (Hor. Obadiah 1:1. xii. 38). The καί after εἰ is doubtless an interpolation, and therefore ‘though’ (AV) is not admissible. There is no need to understand anything with περισσοτέρως, ‘more abundantly than I love other Churches’; ὐμᾶς is not emphatic. And the rendering, ‘If I love you more than the false teachers do, am I loved less than they are, is almost grotesque. In these intensely affectionate verses the Apostle’s opponents are quite forgotten.
εἰ (א A B F G 17, Copt.) rather than εἰ καί (א3 D3 K L P, f Vulg. Syrr. Arm. Aeth.): D, d g omit both εἰ and καί. Note the divergence between F and f and between G and g. It is difficult to decide between ἀγαπῶ (א A 17, Copt.) and ἀγαπῶν (א3 B D F G K L P, Latt.). As in 1 Corinthians 11:17, ἡσσον (א A B D*) rather than ἦττον (D3 K L) or ἔλασσον (F G).
16. Ἔστω δέ, ἐγὼ οὐ κατεβάρησα ὑμᾶς. He is quoting another charge which his detractors had made against him. It was impossible for them to deny that St Paul absolutely refused maintenance, and they are supposed to say; ‘Be it so, we are agreed about that; you did not yourself (the ἐγώ is emphatic) burden us by coming on us for support; but you were cunning enough to catch us and our money in other ways.’*) Neither this use of ἔστω nor the late verb καταβαρέω is found elsewhere in Bibl. Greek, except that καταβεβαρηυμένοι is a v.l. (N) in Mark 14:4.
ἀλλὰ ὑπάρχων πανοῦργος. ‘But being in character thoroughly unscrupulous.’ He is, of course, quoting his critics’ estimate of him; according to them, he is a born shuffler, it is his nature (ὑπάρχων) to be crafty; cf. 8:17; Galatians 1:14, In such cases ὑπάρχων is almost equivalent to φύσει. Πανοῦργος is found nowhere else in N.T., but is freq. in Psalms and Ecclus.; πανουργία occurs 4:2, 11:3; 1 Corinthians 3:19; Ephesians 4:14; Luke 20:23.
ελαβον. Like λαμβάνει (11:20), a metaphor from hunting or fishing; he entrapped or caught them in his wiliness. Some of his friends took maintenance (see on αὐτὸς ἐγώ, v. 13), and he shared what they got; he and his friends collected money for the poor saints, and some of it stuck to his fingers. It is hardly likely that his enemies made the accusation in such plain and blunt terms as St Paul himself uses here: but they insinuated what he states plainly, and to state such charges in plain language is to answer them. In four rapid questions he asks them whether they really believe that any of the missionaries whom he sent to them cheated them.
οὐ κατεβάρησα ὑμᾶς (A B D3 E K L P) rather than οὐκ ἐβάρησα ὑμᾶς (D*) or κατενάρκησα ὑμῶς א F G).
17. μή τινα ὦν ἀπέσταλκα πρὸς ὑμᾶς; In his eagerness he forgets the constr. with which he started, and he leaves τινα without any verb to govern it. ‘Did I, by means of any of those whom I have sent unto you, take advantage of you? Cf. 2:11, 12:2; 1 Thessalonians 4:6. The verb, as distinct from πέμπω, implies that those sent had a definite mission, and the tense implies that the mission was permanent. Perhaps he originally meant the question to run, ‘Have I ever sent anyone to you through whom you were defrauded?’ This probably means that they ‘got money under false pretences,’ especially in connexion with the Palestine relief fund.*
18. παρεκάλεσα Τίτον καί συναπέτειλα τὸν ἀδελφόν. ‘I exhorted Titus, and with him I sent the brother’ (see on 2:13), i.e. some Christian whom the Corinthians knew, ‘the brother whom you remember.’ There seem to have been three missions of Titus to Corinth; (1) the one mentioned here and in 8:6 (καθὼς προενήξατο, ) in which Titus and one colleague started the Palestine collection; † (2) the one alluded to in 2:13, 7:6, 13, in which Titus carried a severe letter from the Apostle, by means of which he succeeded in winning back the rebellious Corinthians to their allegiance; and (3) the one mentioned 8:6, 17, 18, 22, in which Titus and two colleagues were to finish the Palestine collection. This last cannot be alluded to here; for, when ch. viii. was written, Titus and his two colleagues had not yet started for Corinth. And it is very unlikely that (2) can be the mission alluded to here. St Paul would not make so difficult a task as that of putting an end to a rebellion against his authority still more difficult by coupling with it a request for money. Those who identify 10-13. with part of the severe letter cannot identify (2) with the mission mentioned here, for when that letter was written Titus had not started with the letter.* All the allusions fall into place, if we assume that Titus was three times sent by the Apostle to Corinth; and on other grounds there is no objection to this hypothesis.
μήτι ἐπεκτόνησεν ὑμᾶς Τίτος; St Paul knew that the Corinthians had not suspected, and could not suspect, Titus of dishonesty. Then if Titus, the agent who worked in such perfect harmony with himself, was above suspicion, was it credible that the man for whom and with whom he laboured so loyally, was a cheat? The idea of Titus being dishonest in order to serve St Paul was ludicrous. Vulg. makes no difference between μή and μητι, having numquid for both, but it marks the much more important difference between μήτι interrogative and ὀυ interrogative by changing from numquid to nonne as it does in Luke 6:39. It is possible that τι has dropped out between μή and τινα. But elsewhere Vulg. has numquid for μή (3:1; 1 Corinthians 1:13, 1 Corinthians 1:9:4, 1 Corinthians 1:5, 1 Corinthians 1:8, 1 Corinthians 1:9, 1 Corinthians 1:10:22, etc.) as also for μήτι.
οὐ τῷ αὐτῷ πνεύματι περιπατήσαμεν; ‘Walked we not in the same spirit’ (AV) is better than ‘Walked we not by the same Spirit’ (RV), as is shown by the parallel question which follows. The two questions mean that both in mind and conduct there was absolute and manifest harmony between Titus and himself. Cf. στήκετε ἐν ἑνὶ πνεύματι (Php 1:27).
The fact that Timothy is not mentioned here makes it probable that he never reached Corinth. See on 1 Corinthians 16:10, where St Paul is doubtful whether Timothy will reach Corinth. He probably remained in Macedonia, where there was plenty of work for him, until St Paul came thither from Troas (1:1, 2:12, 13).
12:19-13:10. Final Warnings in View of His Approaching Visit
Think not that I am on my defence before you; it is to God that I am responsible; and it is for your good that I speak, for it is you that have to be judged by me. I pray that, through your repentance, I may have no need to punish, and you may go on to perfection.
19 Am I right in surmising that all this time you are thinking that it is to you that I am making my defence? It is before God and in union with Christ that I am speaking as I do;—but every word of it, my beloved friends, with a view to your being built up in holiness. 20 And there is much need of building up, for I am afraid that perhaps in some ways the effect of my visit may be mutual disappointment,—that I should find you to be not such as I would, and that I should be found by you to be such as ye would not. I mean that I fear lest there may be among you strife and jealously, wraths and factions, backbitings and whisperings, swellings and tumults; 21 lest, when I come back to you, my God should again, as He did before, humiliate me by showing what faulty Christians you are, and I should have to mourn over many of you who have clung to their old sins, and never repented of the impurity and fornication and lasciviousness which they practised.
13. 1 I am now for the third time coming to you. Remember the Scripture which says, At the mouth of two witnesses and of three shall every word be established. That implies a strict investigation. 2 I gave a warning, when I was with you a second time, to those who clung to their old sins then, and now being absent I give a warning to all the rest who may need it now,—that if I come again, as I am, preparing to do, I will not spare. 3 I could not do so, seeing that you are seeking to make me give a proof that it is the Christ who is speaking in me, the Christ who in His dealings with you is not weak, but exhibits His power among you. 4 For though it is true that He was crucified through weakness, yet He is alive for evermore through the power of God. And you will find the same kind of thing in me. By union with Christ I share His weakness; yet through that same power of God and in fellowship with Christ. I shall be full of life and vigour for dealing with you. 5 You seek a proof from me that Christ is in me. It is your own selves that you ought to be testing, whether you are in the faith that saves; it is your own selves that you ought to be proving. Or are you so ignorant about your state as not to know that Christ is in you? Of course He is, unless (as I will not believe) you have failed to stand this test. 6 But I trust that you will come to know that I have not failed. 7 But my prayer unto God is that you may not in any way go wrong; not in order that in this way I may be shown to have stood the test, but that you may do what is noble and right, even though I may seem to have failed. 8 For of course I cannot, even to secure my position as an Apostle, do anything that would be prejudicial to the Gospel; all that I do must be in furtherance of the Gospel. 9 Indeed, I rejoice when it is owing to your Christian strength of character that I am weakened by losing an opportunity of proving my authority; and this I not only rejoice over but pray for,—I mean the perfecting of your characters. 10This is my reason for writing as I do while I am away from you, so that, when I am present, I may not have to act sharply, according to the authority which the Lord gave me for building up and not for demolition.
19. Πάλαι δοκεῖτε ὅτι ὑμῖν ἀπολογούμεθα; The Apostle is now rapidly drawing towards a conclusion; and this verse serves as a passage from the vigorous apologia pro vita sua in the last three chapters (10-12) to the grave warning which reminds the Corinthians of the serious duty which he has to discharge directly he returns to them. It rests with them to decide whether this third visit shall be as painful as the second visit was (1:23, 2:1). A complete reformation of their evil ways is the only thing that can prevent it from being so, and for this he hopes and prays. Earlier in this part of the letter (10:2, 6, 11) he has hinted that he may be compelled to adopt severe measures; he now speaks more fully. His vindication of himself must not mislead them as to the relation in which he and they stand to one another. ‘All this time are you thinking that it is to you that we are making our defence?’ Almost all English Versions follow Luther, Calvin, and Beza in making this sentence interrogative. RV. follows Wiclif in regarding it as categorical, which is more severe and less tactful. St Paul could not be sure that the Corinthians understood him in this way. Recent translators and commentators remain divided on the subject. We have found similar doubts respecting vv. 11 and 15 and 10:7. Πάλαι in the sense of ‘for some time past’ is not found elsewhere in N.T. (hence the reading πάλιν, for even if πάλαι and not ἤδη were the true reading in Mark 15:44, the passage would not be parallel to this; but it is found in Plato (Phaedr. 273 C, Gorg. 456 A). Excepting this passage and Romans 2:15, ἀπολογέομαι is confined in N.T. to Lk. and Acts; in LXX it is very rare. The plur. may include Titus, of whom he has just spoken as above suspicion; but throughout this passage the changes between 1st sing. and 1st plur. are so rapid and frequent, that we cannot safely insist on any change of meaning. See on 1:4.
κατέναντι Θεοῦ ἔν χριστῷ λαλοῦμεν. ‘It is in the sight of God in union with Christ that we are speaking.’ The first four words are not to be taken together, as if they made a kind of “double oath”; they form a pair of guarantees. St Paul often appeals to the fact that he speaks and acts ‘in the sight of God’ and ‘in Christ.’ Cf. 2:17, and see on 1 Corinthians 4:3, 1 Corinthians 4:4. We have similar asseverations 1:18, 23, 4:2, 5:11, 7:12, 11:11, 31; Romans 1:9, Romans 1:9:1; Php 1:8; 1 Thessalonians 2:5, 1 Thessalonians 2:10. See on 11:31.
τὰ δὲ πάντα, ἀγαπητοί, ὑπὲρ τῆς ὑμῶν οἰκοδομῆς. Understand λαλοῦμεν: neither ‘we do’ (AV) nor ‘are’ (RV) is required: ‘But every word, beloved, we speak for your edification’ (see on 10:8, 13:10). Griesbach and Scholz put a comma between ἐν Χριστῷ and λαλοῦμεν. The affectionate ἀγαπητοί occurs here only in these last four chapters, and in 7:1 only in the first nine chapters. It shows that St Paul is addressing the whole Church of Corinth, and not the rebellious element. We have several times had the exclusively Pauline use of ὑμῶν between the art. and the noun (see on 1:6); cf. 1 Corinthians 7:35, 1 Corinthians 9:12. Οἰκοδομή as in 10:8.
πάλαι (א* A B F G 17, d e f Vulg.) rather than πάλιν (א3 D E K L P, g Syrr. Copt.). Note the divergence of d e g from D E G. κατέναντι (א A B G) rather than κατενώπιον (D E K L P).
20. φοβοῦμαι γὰρ μή πως ἐλθὼν οὐχ οἵους θέλω εὕρω ὑμᾶς. ‘For I fear, lest by any means, when I come, I should find you not such as I would, and I should be found by you such as ye would not.’ The authoritative voice of the Apostle, which begins to sound in v. 19, here increases in solemnity, yet with more tenderness than rigour. He is a father dealing with children about whom he has grave misgivings. Until he has the evidence before him, he utters no judgment, but he tells them that what he fears to find is that, instead of being peaceable and pure, as Christians must be, they indulge in the worst forms of strife and licentiousness; in short, that they have returned to their old heathen life. The γάρ explains the previous assertion that what he has been saying was spoken, not to glorify himself, but to build up them. That is the true work of an Apostle; and they are still in great need of οἰκοδομή, for the structure of their life seems to be utterly rotten. With a dread of this kind in his mind, the malice of the Judaizing opponents, and the outrageous conduct of ὁ ἀδικήσας (7:12), appear to be quite forgotten. Yet it is all put very gently; he fears, not is certain; and ‘not such as I would’ is a mild form of disapproval. Moreover, there is a mitigating πως here and in what follows, and in both places it is overlooked in AV. The change from active to passive, and the chiasmus which brings ὑμᾶς and ἐγώ into juxtaposition, and the shifting of the negative from the adjective to the verb, all add to the effect.
μή πως ἔρις, ζῆλος κ.τ.λ. The list of vices appears to be arranged in four pairs; ‘Lest by any means there should be found strife and jealousy (11:2; 1 Corinthians 3:3), wraths and factions (Php 1:7, Php 1:2:3; see on Romans 2:8), backbitings (see on 1 Peter 2:1) and whisperings, swellings and tumults’ (6:5; 1 Corinthians 14:33). As in the second half of v. 19, the Apostle leaves the verb to be understood from the previous sentence, λαλοῦμεν there, εὑρεθῶσιν here. Other lists of vices should be compared, esp. ‘the works of the flesh’ in Galatians 5:20, where we have ἔρις, ζῆλος, θυμοί, ἐριθίαι, as here; cf. Romans 1:29, Romans 1:30, Romans 1:13:13; 1 Peter 4:3; Mark 7:21, Mark 7:22. See on 1 Corinthians 6:10, p. 119.
There is no etymological connexion between ἔρις and ἐριθεία or ἔριθία. The latter comes from ἔριθος, ‘a hired labourer’; ἐριθεύεσθαι means ‘to hire partisans,’ and ἐριθεία means ‘party spirit’ or ‘intrigue.’ Although καταλαλεῖν (11; 1 Peter 2:12, 1 Peter 3:16) is found in class. Grk., καταλαλιά (1 Peter 2:1) and κάτάλαλος (Romans 1:30) are not: καταλαλεῖν is freq. in LXX. For ἀκαταστασία see on 1 Corinthians 14:33 and Luke 21:9; the two passages show that, like ‘disorder,’ the word has a large range.
ἔρις (א A 17, d f g Arm., Chrys.) rather than ἔρεις (B D F G K L P, Vulg. Copt.). Note the divergence of d f g from D F G. ζῆλος (A B D* F G 17, Arm.) rather than ζῆλοι (א D 3 K L P, Latt.). The two words have been made plural in assimilation to the six plurals which follow.
21. μὴ πάλιν ἐλθόντος μου ταπεινώσῃ με ὁ Θεός. Almost certainly the μή depends on φοβοῦμαι: ‘least, when I come, my God should again humble me.’* Πάλιν is emphatic by position, and the only way to give it emphasis is to take it, not with ἐλθόντος (AV, RV), but with ταπεινώσῃ. He has just spoken of his return to Corinth as ἐλθών, and it is there that πάλιν would be in place, if it were used at all. But St Paul often uses ἔρχομαι, without πάλιν, for ‘coming back’ (1:15, 23, 2:3, 8:17, 12:20; 1 Corinthians 4:18, 1 Corinthians 4:19, 1 Corinthians 4:11:34, 1 Corinthians 4:14:6, 1 Corinthians 4:16:2, 1 Corinthians 4:5, 1 Corinthians 4:10, 1 Corinthians 4:11, 1 Corinthians 4:12; etc.). It is not his coming again that is emphasized, but the possibility of his being humiliated again, as he was when he was so outraged during his second visit. Alford, Bachmann, Beet, Bernard, Bousset, Cornely, Klöpper, McFadyen, Massie, Meyer, and Waite are among those who see that to take πάλιν with ἐλθόντος is to make it superfluous rather than emphatic. St Paul took great pride in his converts (1:14, 3:2, 7:4, 8:24, 9:2), and he felt that anything which disgraced them was a humiliation to him. But seeing that humiliation is wholesome for him, he accepts it as coming from God’s hand. That fact, however, does not free the Corinthians from responsibility.
πρὸς ὑμᾶς. Perhaps ‘before you,’ apud vos (Vulg.), but more probably ‘in reference to you.’
καὶ πενθήσω πολλοὺς τῶν προημαρτηκότων καὶ μὴ μετανοησάντων. ‘And I should mourn (as over those who are dead) for many of them who continued in sin before (during my second visit) and did not (then) repent.’* The change from perf. to aor. is intelligible. The perf. refers to the persistence in former transgression, the aor. to their refusal to repent when he came to rebuke them. Προαμαρτάνω occurs again 13:2 and nowhere else in Bibl. Grk. It is improbable that προ- refers to their life previous to being converted to Christianity; but those who deny the brief second visit resort to this explanation of the rare compound.
ἐπὶ τῇ ἀκαθαρσίᾳ. It is not impossible to take this after πενθήσω (‘mourn over many because of the uncleanness’), but it is too awkward a constr. to be probable. If there were no πολλούς and τῶν προ. κ.τ.λ. came after ἀσελγείᾳ, πενθήσω ἐπὶ κ.τ.λ would be easy enough, and indeed it is freq. in LXX (2 Samuel 14:2; 2Sa_1 Esdr. 8:69 (73); Isaiah 66:10), where we have πενθέω ἐπί τινι and ἐπί τινα as well as the simple acc. Much more probably ἐπὶ τῇ ἀκ belongs to μετανοησάντων. It is no objection to this that no such constr. is found in N.T., for nowhere else in the Epistles does μετανοέω occur, and in the Gospels and Acts it is nearly always absolute, as also is μετάνοια. In LXX, μεταν. ἐπί τινι is normal, and in English we ‘repent over’ a fault as well as ‘of’ it. Cf. Wisd. 12:19; 1 Chronicles 21:15.
In Galatians 5:19 πορνεία is mentioned first of the three vices; it is a definite form of ἀκαθαρσία, which means impurity of any kind, while ἀσέλγεια. (Romans 13:13; Galatians 5:19; Ephesians 4:19) adds the idea of wanton defiance of public decency.† Tertullian, Cyprian, and the translator of Irenaeus vary in their renderings of ἀσέλγεια (vilitas and lascivia; immunditia and libido and incestum; immunditia and libido); and in Vulg. Jerome varies also (impudicitia and luxuria).
Neither here nor 1 Thessalonians 2:3 (see Lightfoot or Milligan) can ἀκαθαρσία mean ‘covetousness’ or ‘impure’ motives in the acquisition of money.’ To a Jew ἀκαθαρσία might mean ‘spiritual impurity,’ viz. idolatry, but not ‘avarice.’
It certainly is startling to find the Apostle giving utterance to these dreadful misgivings respecting the lives of his Corinthian converts in the same letter in which he has so frequently given them the highest praise. In the first nine chapters he says; ‘In your faith ye stand firm’ (1:24); ‘my joy is the joy of you all (2:3); ‘ye are an epistle of Christ’ (3:3); ‘great is my glorying on your behalf’ (7:4); ‘your zeal for me’ (7:7); ‘in everything ye approved yourselves to be pure in the matter’ (7:11); ‘he remembereth the obedience of you all’ (7:15); ‘in everything I am of good courage concerning you’ (7:16); “ye abound in everything, in faith, and utterance, and knowledge, and in all earnestness, and in your love to us (8:7); ‘I know your readiness, of which I glory on your behalf’ (9:2). And yet a few pages later he tells them that he fears to find them indulging in every kind of dissension and enmity, and many of them indulging in vile forms of impurity,—just the two forms of evil which are conspicuous in 1 Corinthians; e.g. 1:11, 5:2, 6:9-11, 13. The incongruity is so glaring that the Apostle can hardly have been unaware of it, and so tactful a teacher would see that such incompatible statements would produce little effect. What was the worth of the commendations of a man, who all the while had these black thoughts at the back of his mind?
If we suppose that these grave fears were expressed first, at a time when the condition of the Corinthian Church was alarming him, and that the generous praise followed, after the crisis had ended happily, all falls into place.
ἐλθόντος μου (א* A B G P) rather than ἐλθόντα με (א3 D K L); and perhaps ταπεινώσῃ (א A K) rather than ταπεινώσει (B D E G P L). But ταπεινώσῃ like ἐλθόντα με, looks like a correction.
* Some make the first sentence interrogative; Gloriari oportet? non expedil quidem, veniam autem, etc. Aquinas remarks; qui gloriatur de bone recepto, incidit in periculum amittendi quod accepit.
† Theophylact distinguishes the two thus; ἡ μὲν μόνον βλέπειν δίδωσιν, αὔτη δὲ καί τι βαθύτερον τοῦ ὁρωμένου ἀπογυμνοῖ.
אԠא (Fourth century). Codex Sinaiticus; now at Petrograd, the only uncial MS. containing the whole N.T.
f d The Latin companion of F
B B (Fourth century). Codex Vaticanus.
D D (Sixth century). Codex Claromontanus; now at Paris. A Graeco-Latin MS. The Latin (d) is akin to the Old Latin. Many subsequent hands (sixth to ninth centuries) have corrected the MS.
F F (Late ninth century). Codex Augiensis (from Reichenau); now at Trinity College, Cambridge.
G G (Late ninth century). Codex Boernerianus; at Dresden. Interlined with the Latin (in minluscules). The Greek text is almost the same as that of F, but the Latin (g) shows Old Latin elements.
L L (Ninth century). Codex Angelicus; now in the Angelica Library at Rome.
P P (Ninth century). Codex Porfirianus Chiovensis, formerly possessed by Bishop Porfiri of Kiev, and now at Petrograd.
d d The Latin companion of D
g d The Latin companion of G
* information respecting the commentator is to be found in the volume on the First Epistle, pp. lxvi f.
17 17. (Evan. 33, Act_13. Ninth century). Now at paris. “The queen of the cursives” and the best for the Pauline Epistles; more than any other it preserves Pre-Syrian readings and agrees with B D L.
67 67. (Eleventh century). At Vienna. Has valuable marginal readings (67 * *) akin to B and M; these readings must have been copied from an ancient MS., but not from the Codex Ruber itself.
K K (Ninth century). Codex Mosquensis; now at Moscow.
m m (Ninth century). Speculum pseudo-Augustinianum; at Rome. Fragments.
* On the rhetorical features of this and many other passages in the Pauline Epistles see the Essay on Paulinische Rhetorik, by J. Weiss, in Theologische Studien, Göttingen, 1897, esp. p. 191; also Farrar, St Paul, 1., Rev_1. and 2.
† It has been thought that some of his opponents may have claimed to have had ‘visions,’ and that he is here pointing to experiences of his own Which are superior to theirs. This cannot be inferred from what is told us here, and no such hypotheses is required in order to make what is told un more intelligible.
* “In Christ points to spiritual contact with Christ as the source of all that follows” (Beet). To suppose that it means no more than that it was after he had become a Christian that he had these favour bestowed on him, is inadequate.
* In any case there is no need to suspect Persian influence, or borrowing from Mazdeism, in the idea of a third heaven, as Clemen (Primitive Christianity, pp.172, 368) suspects.
* In the testament of Abraham (Recension B. vii., viii.) σωματικῶς and ἑν σώματι are used as exact equivalents. Abraham asks to be taken up σωματικῶς, and the Lord tells Michael to take him up ἐν σώματι.
† R. H. Charles (Book of the Secrets of Enouch, pp. xl) and Thackeray (St Paul and Contemporary Jewish Thought, pp. 172 f.) regard it as certain that the Apostle was familiar with these ideas and is here influenced by them. Chrysostom (Hom. in Gen. iv. 3) says that to teach that there asre many heavens is to speak ἀπεναντίως τῇ θείᾳ γραφῇ. Basil (Hexaem. iii. 3) contends for three.
* With this Erasmus agrees in his paraphrase; rapius est in tertium usque soelum, hinc tursum in paradisum.
E E (Ninth century). At Petrograd. A copy of D, and unimportant
* We have something similar in Plato (Sym. 189 B); ἄρρητα ἔστω τὰ εἰρημένα: and in Eophocles (O. C. 1001); ἄρρητον ἔπος.
M M (Ninth century). Codex Ruber, in bright red letters; two leaves in the British Museum contain 2Co_10:13-5.
e d The Latin companion of E
* If Numbers 33:55 was in St Paul’s mind, that alone would be almost fatal to the σκόλοψ was ophthalmia. In that case he would hardly have omitted ἐν τοις όφθαλμοῖς and kept an equivalent for ἐν ταῖς πλευραῖς
* Other conjectures are sick headache, Malta fever, acute nervous disorder.
* Gregory Nazianzen, who in one place speaks of a malady of his own as the σκόλοψ which was given him by God for his discipline (see above), in another says that it is possibly due to the Satan, which he, like St Paul, carries in his body for his own profit. (Or. xlii. 26). Basil says; “The just Judge has sent me, in accordance with my works, a messenger of Satan who is buffeting me” (Ep. 148).
† Basil uses κατακονδυλίζω.
A (Fifth century). Codex Alexandrinus, now in the British Museum. All of 2 Corinthians from ἐπίστευσα 4:13 to ἐξ ἐμοῦ 12:6 is wanting.
* “You see then that none but sufferers and weak people can fight the Lord’s battles, weak indeed with that weakness, founded on which that centurion of ours in the Gospel said with confidence, For when I am weak then am I strong, and again, For strength is made perfect in weakness” (Cassian).
* These passages are confirmed by Acts 15:12. ‘The overmuch apostles’ had nothing of the kind to show.
† The combination σημεῖα καὶ τέρατα is very freq. in LXX. The translation of both is easy; that of δυνάμεις can hardly be made uniform, but we do not need ‘mighty works,’ ‘wonderful works,’ ‘ mighty deeds’ and ‘miracles,’ as in AV
73 73. (Acts 68). At Upsala. Resembles 17.
* Some hold that there is no playfulness or irony; that he is quite serios. Corinthians think that his refusal is a reflexion on their generosity, and he asks forgiveness for seeming to treat them as niggards. Moreover, he had accepted support from other Churches.
* Some take ἔστω to mean ‘Be it so that I am loved the less; I at any rate was not a burden to you;’ which does not fit well with what follows.
* Bruce, St Paul’s Conception of Christianity, p. 88. See on 8:20, 21.
† In this first mission Titus may have been the bearer of r Corinthians (Lightfoot, Biblical Essays, p. 181). He evidently made himself apersonagrata at Corinth, and hence his success in the second mission. See on 1 Corinthians 16:11.
* Some, however, would make παρεκάλεσα and συναπέτειλα to be epistolary aorists, ‘I am exhorting T. and am sending with him.’ But this is barely possible, for ἐπλεκτόνησεν cannot be an epistolary aorist. Al three verbs refer to previous missions ot T. to Corinth.
* Lachmann makes the sentence interrogative, which is possible, but harsh and abrupt.
* Contrast the Corinthians’ conduct about the case of incest; οὐχι μᾶλλον ἔπενθήσατε (1 Corinthians 5:2). It is not likely that πενθήσω is a euphemism for ‘sorrowfully punish.’ Veri et germani pastoris affectum nobis exprimit, quum luciu aliorum peccata se proseculurum aicit (Calvin).
† Originally this idea was the whole of the meaning, without any special reference to impurity.
I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven.
And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;)
How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.
Of such an one will I glory: yet of myself I will not glory, but in mine infirmities.
For though I would desire to glory, I shall not be a fool; for I will say the truth: but now I forbear, lest any man should think of me above that which he seeth me to be, or that he heareth of me.
And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.
For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.
And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.
I am become a fool in glorying; ye have compelled me: for I ought to have been commended of you: for in nothing am I behind the very chiefest apostles, though I be nothing.
Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, in signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds.
For what is it wherein ye were inferior to other churches, except it be that I myself was not burdensome to you? forgive me this wrong.
Behold, the third time I am ready to come to you; and I will not be burdensome to you: for I seek not yours, but you: for the children ought not to lay up for the parents, but the parents for the children.
And I will very gladly spend and be spent for you; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved.
But be it so, I did not burden you: nevertheless, being crafty, I caught you with guile.
Did I make a gain of you by any of them whom I sent unto you?
I desired Titus, and with him I sent a brother. Did Titus make a gain of you? walked we not in the same spirit? walked we not in the same steps?
Again, think ye that we excuse ourselves unto you? we speak before God in Christ: but we do all things, dearly beloved, for your edifying.
For I fear, lest, when I come, I shall not find you such as I would, and that I shall be found unto you such as ye would not: lest there be debates, envyings, wraths, strifes, backbitings, whisperings, swellings, tumults:
And lest, when I come again, my God will humble me among you, and that I shall bewail many which have sinned already, and have not repented of the uncleanness and fornication and lasciviousness which they have committed.