2 Corinthians 3:1
Parallel Verses
New International Version
Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, like some people, letters of recommendation to you or from you?

New Living Translation
Are we beginning to praise ourselves again? Are we like others, who need to bring you letters of recommendation, or who ask you to write such letters on their behalf? Surely not!

English Standard Version
Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, as some do, letters of recommendation to you, or from you?

New American Standard Bible
Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, as some, letters of commendation to you or from you?

King James Bible
Do we begin again to commend ourselves? or need we, as some others, epistles of commendation to you, or letters of commendation from you?

Holman Christian Standard Bible
Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, like some, letters of recommendation to you or from you?

International Standard Version
Are we beginning to recommend ourselves again? Unlike some people, we do not need letters of recommendation to you or from you, do we?

NET Bible
Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? We don't need letters of recommendation to you or from you as some other people do, do we?

Aramaic Bible in Plain English
Do we introduce ourselves again from the beginning to show you what we are, or do we need, as others, letters of commandments to be written to you about us, or for you to write to give decrees concerning us?

GOD'S WORD® Translation
Do we have to show you our qualifications again? Do we, like some people, need letters that recommend us to you or letters from you that recommend us to others?

Jubilee Bible 2000
Do we begin again to commend ourselves? or do we need, as some others, epistles of commendation to you or letters of commendation from you?

King James 2000 Bible
Do we begin again to commend ourselves? or need we, as some others, epistles of commendation to you, or letters of commendation from you?

American King James Version
Do we begin again to commend ourselves? or need we, as some others, letters of commendation to you, or letters of commendation from you?

American Standard Version
Are we beginning again to commend ourselves? or need we, as do some, epistles of commendation to you or from you?

Douay-Rheims Bible
Do we begin again to commend ourselves? Or do we need (as some do) epistles of commendation to you, or from you?

Darby Bible Translation
Do we begin again to commend ourselves? or do we need, as some, commendatory letters to you, or [commendatory] from you?

English Revised Version
Are we beginning again to commend ourselves? or need we, as do some, epistles of commendation to you or from you?

Webster's Bible Translation
Do we begin again to commend ourselves? or need we, as some others, epistles of commendation to you, or letters of commendation from you.

Weymouth New Testament
Do you say that this is self-recommendation once more? Or do we need, as some do, letters of recommendation to you or from you?

World English Bible
Are we beginning again to commend ourselves? Or do we need, as do some, letters of commendation to you or from you?

Young's Literal Translation
Do we begin again to recommend ourselves, except we need, as some, letters of recommendation unto you, or from you?
Parallel Commentaries
Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary

3:1-11 Even the appearance of self-praise and courting human applause, is painful to the humble and spiritual mind. Nothing is more delightful to faithful ministers, or more to their praise, than the success of their ministry, as shown in the spirits and lives of those among whom they labour. The law of Christ was written in their hearts, and the love of Christ shed abroad there. Nor was it written in tables of stone, as the law of God given to Moses, but on the fleshy (not fleshly, as fleshliness denotes sensuality) tables of the heart, Eze 36:26. Their hearts were humbled and softened to receive this impression, by the new-creating power of the Holy Spirit. He ascribes all the glory to God. And remember, as our whole dependence is upon the Lord, so the whole glory belongs to him alone. The letter killeth: the letter of the law is the ministration of death; and if we rest only in the letter of the gospel, we shall not be the better for so doing: but the Holy Spirit gives life spiritual, and life eternal. The Old Testament dispensation was the ministration of death, but the New Testament of life. The law made known sin, and the wrath and curse of God; it showed us a God above us, and a God against us; but the gospel makes known grace, and Emmanuel, God with us. Therein the righteousness of God by faith is revealed; and this shows us that the just shall live by his faith; this makes known the grace and mercy of God through Jesus Christ, for obtaining the forgiveness of sins and eternal life. The gospel so much exceeds the law in glory, that it eclipses the glory of the legal dispensation. But even the New Testament will be a killing letter, if shown as a mere system or form, and without dependence on God the Holy Spirit, to give it a quickening power.

Pulpit Commentary

Verses 1-11. - St. Paul's ministry is his sufficient letter of commendation. Verse 1. - Do we begin again to commend ourselves? The last verse of the last chapter might be seized upon by St. Paul's opponents to renew their charge - that he was always praising himself. He anticipates the malignant and meaning smiles with which they would hear such words. The word "again" implies that this charge had already been brought against him, perhaps in consequence of such passages as 1 Corinthians 2:16; 1 Corinthians 3:10; 1 Corinthians 4:11-14; 1 Corinthians 9:15-23; 1 Corinthians 14:18, etc. Such passages might be called self-laudatory and egotistical, were it not that (as St. Paul here explains) they arose only from a sense of the grandeur of his office, of which he was the almost involuntary agent, used by God as it seemed best to him. Hence he says later on (2 Corinthians 7:18) that self-praise is no commendation, and that the true test of a man is God's commendation. The verb "I commend," technically used in the same sense as our "commendatory letters," occurs also in Romans 16:1. Or need we, etc.? The reading, η} μὴ, thus translated, is better supported than εἰ μὴ, unless, which would have a somewhat ironical force. The μὴ in the reading η} μὴ implies, "Can you possibly think that we need," etc.? Generally, when a stranger came to some Church to which he was not personally known, he carried with him some credentials in the form of letters from accredited authorities. St. Paul treats it as absurd to suppose that he or Timothy should need such letters, either from the Corinthians or to them. As some. He will not name them, but he refers to the Judaists, who vaunted of their credentials in order to disparage St. Paul, who was too great to need and too independent to use them. We can hardly, perhaps, realize the depth and bitterness of antagonism concealed under that word "some" in 1 Corinthians 4:18 Galatians 1:7; Galatians 2:12. It is not meant that there was anything discreditable in using such letters (for Apollos had used them, Acts 18:27), but the disgraceful thing was that St. Paul should be disparaged for not bringing them. Epistles of commendation. The phrase, ἐπιστολαὶ συστατικαί ( "introductory letters" - was familiar in later Greek. In days when there were few public hostels, and when it was both a duty and a necessity for small and persecuted communities like those of the Jews and Christians to practise hospitality (Romans 12:13; Hebrews 13:2. etc.), it was customary both for synagogues and Churches to provide their friends and emissaries with authentic testimonials. Otherwise they might have been deceived by wandering impostors, as, in fact, the Christians were deceived by the vagabond quack Peregrinus. We can easily see how the custom of using such letters might be abused by idle, restless, and intriguing persons, who have never found it very difficult to procure them. We find traces of their honest use by Phoebe, by Silas and Jude, by Apollos, by Mark, and by Zenas, in Romans 16:1; Acts 18:27; Acts 15:25; Colossians 4:10; Titus 3:13; and of their unfair use by certain Judaists, in Galatians 1:7 and Galatians 2:12. Nothing can more forcibly illustrate the necessity for St. Paul's protest against the idle vaunt of possessing such letters, than the fact that, more than a century afterwards, we find malignant innuendoes aimed at St. Paul in the pseudo-Clementines, under the name of" the enemy" and "Simon Magus" and "a deceiver." He is there spoken of as using letters from the high priest (which, indeed, St. Paul had done as Saul of Tarsus, Acts 9:1, 2); and the Churches are warned never to receive any one who cannot bring credentials from James; so deep-rooted among the Judaists was the antagonism to the independent apostolate and daring originality of the apostle of the Gentiles! Dr. Plumptre quotes Sozomen ('H.E.', 5:16) for the curious fact that the Emperor Julian tried to introduce the system of "commendatory letters" into his revived paganism. Or letters of commendation from you. The substitution of "letters" for "epistles" is an instance of the almost childish fondness for unnecessary synonyms, which is one of the defects of the Authorized Version. The true reading probably is "to you or from you" (א, A, B, C). The word "commendatory" (sustatikon) is omitted in A, B, C. Or from you. It was worse than absurd to suppose that St. Paul should need those literae formatae to a Church of which he was the thunder; and nothing but the boundless "inflation" which characterized the Corinthians could have led them to imagine that he needed letters from them to other Churches, as though, forsooth, they were the primary Church or the only church (1 Corinthians 14:36).

Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible

Do we begin again to commend ourselves?.... The apostle having asserted that he and his fellow ministers always triumphed in Christ, and made manifest the savour of his knowledge in every place; were a sweet savour of Christ to God, did not corrupt the word of God, as some did, but sincerely and faithfully preached Christ; some might insinuate from hence, that he was guilty of arrogance and vain glory; wherefore to remove such a charge, or prevent its being brought, he asks, "do we begin again to commend ourselves?" we do not; what we say, we say honestly, sincerely, in the simplicity of our hearts, without any view to our own glory and applause among men, or for any worldly profit and advantage, or to ingratiate ourselves into your affections; we have no such views: some read these words without an interrogation, "we do begin again to commend ourselves"; as we have done already, in this and the former epistles; and as it is but just and right that we should vindicate our characters, support our good name and reputation, and secure and maintain our credit, which some would maliciously deprive us of:

though we have no need, as some others, of epistles of commendation to you, or letters of commendation from you; our persons, characters, and usefulness are too well known, to require commendatory letters front others to you, or from you to others. The false apostles are here struck at, whose practice it was to get letters of commendation from place to place; which they carried about and made use of for their temporal advantage, having nothing truly good and excellent in them to recommend them to others. The apostle does not hereby condemn letters of recommendation, which in proper cases may be very lawfully given, and a good use be made of them; only that he and other Gospel ministers were so well known, as to stand in no need of them.

Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary

CHAPTER 3

2Co 3:1-18. The Sole Commendation He Needs to Prove God's Sanction of His Ministry He Has in His Corinthian Converts: His Ministry Excels the Mosaic, as the Gospel of Life and Liberty Excels the Law of Condemnation.

1. Are we beginning again to recommend ourselves (2Co 5:12) (as some of them might say he had done in his first Epistle; or, a reproof to "some" who had begun doing so)!

commendation—recommendation. (Compare 2Co 10:18). The "some" refers to particular persons of the "many" (2Co 2:17) teachers who opposed him, and who came to Corinth with letters of recommendation from other churches; and when leaving that city obtained similar letters from the Corinthians to other churches. The thirteenth canon of the Council of Chalcedon (A.D. 451) ordained that "clergymen coming to a city where they were unknown, should not be allowed to officiate without letters commendatory from their own bishop." The history (Ac 18:27) confirms the existence of the custom here alluded to in the Epistle: "When Apollos was disposed to pass into Achaia [Corinth], the brethren [of Ephesus] wrote, exhorting the disciples to receive him." This was about two years before the Epistle,and is probably one of the instances to which Paul refers, as many at Corinth boasted of their being followers of Apollos (1Co 1:12).

2 Corinthians 3:1 Additional Commentaries
Context
Ministers of a New Covenant
1Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, as some, letters of commendation to you or from you? 2You are our letter, written in our hearts, known and read by all men;…
Cross References
Acts 18:27
When Apollos wanted to go to Achaia, the brothers and sisters encouraged him and wrote to the disciples there to welcome him. When he arrived, he was a great help to those who by grace had believed.

Romans 16:1
I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a deacon of the church in Cenchreae.

1 Corinthians 16:3
Then, when I arrive, I will give letters of introduction to the men you approve and send them with your gift to Jerusalem.

2 Corinthians 5:12
We are not trying to commend ourselves to you again, but are giving you an opportunity to take pride in us, so that you can answer those who take pride in what is seen rather than in what is in the heart.

2 Corinthians 10:12
We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise.

2 Corinthians 10:18
For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends.

2 Corinthians 12:11
I have made a fool of myself, but you drove me to it. I ought to have been commended by you, for I am not in the least inferior to the "super-apostles," even though I am nothing.
Treasury of Scripture

Do we begin again to commend ourselves? or need we, as some others, letters of commendation to you, or letters of commendation from you?

begin.

2 Corinthians 2:17 For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of …

2 Corinthians 5:12 For we commend not ourselves again to you, but give you occasion …

2 Corinthians 10:8,12 For though I should boast somewhat more of our authority, which the …

2 Corinthians 12:11,19 I am become a fool in glorying; you have compelled me: for I ought …

1 Corinthians 3:10 According to the grace of God which is given to me, as a wise master …

1 Corinthians 4:15 For though you have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have …

1 Corinthians 10:33 Even as I please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit, …

epistles.

Acts 18:27 And when he was disposed to pass into Achaia, the brothers wrote, …

1 Corinthians 16:3 And when I come, whomsoever you shall approve by your letters, them …

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