2 Corinthians 1:9
But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raises the dead:
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(9) We had the sentence of death in ourselves.—The word translated “sentence” (apokrima) does not occur elsewhere in the New Testament, nor indeed in the LXX. Literally, it means answer, and was probably a half-technical term, used in medical practice, which St. Paul may have adopted from St. Luke, expressing the “opinion” which a physician formed on his diagnosis of a case submitted to him. The Apostle had found himself in a state in which, so far as he could judge for himself, that opinion would have been against the prospect of recovery. He ceased to trust in himself, i.e., in any remedial measures that he could take for himself. He could only fold his hands and trust in God. Recovery in such a case was a veritable resurrection. It may be noted, however, that a cognate word (apokrisis) is frequently used by Hippocrates in the sense of a morbid or virulent secretion, and possibly the word here used may also have had that meaning. In this case, what he says would be equivalent to “We had the symptoms of a fatal disease in us.”

1:1-11 We are encouraged to come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. The Lord is able to give peace to the troubled conscience, and to calm the raging passions of the soul. These blessings are given by him, as the Father of his redeemed family. It is our Saviour who says, Let not your heart be troubled. All comforts come from God, and our sweetest comforts are in him. He speaks peace to souls by granting the free remission of sins; and he comforts them by the enlivening influences of the Holy Spirit, and by the rich mercies of his grace. He is able to bind up the broken-hearted, to heal the most painful wounds, and also to give hope and joy under the heaviest sorrows. The favours God bestows on us, are not only to make us cheerful, but also that we may be useful to others. He sends comforts enough to support such as simply trust in and serve him. If we should be brought so low as to despair even of life, yet we may then trust God, who can bring back even from death. Their hope and trust were not in vain; nor shall any be ashamed who trust in the Lord. Past experiences encourage faith and hope, and lay us under obligation to trust in God for time to come. And it is our duty, not only to help one another with prayer, but in praise and thanksgiving, and thereby to make suitable returns for benefits received. Thus both trials and mercies will end in good to ourselves and others.But we had the sentence of death in ourselves - Margin, "answer." The word rendered "sentence" (ἀπόκριμα apokrima) means properly an answer, judicial response, or sentence; and is here synonymous with verdict. It means that Paul felt that he was condemned to die; that he felt as if he were under sentence of death and with no hope of acquittal; he was called to contemplate the hour of death as just before him. The words "in ourselves," mean, against ourselves; or, we expected certainly to die. This seems as if he had been condemned to die, and may either refer to some instance when the popular fury was so great that he felt it was determined he should die; or more probably to a judicial sentence that he should be cast to the wild beasts, with the certain expectation that he would be destroyed, as was always the case with those who were subjected to the execution of such a sentence.

That we should not trust in ourselves - This is an exceedingly beautiful and important sentiment. It teaches that in the time to which Paul refers, he was in so great danger, and had so certain a prospect of death, that he could put no reliance on himself. He felt that he must die; and that human aid was vain. According to every probability he would die; and all that he could do was to cast himself on the protection of that God who had power to save him even then, if he chose, and who, if he did it, would exert power similar to that which is put forth when the dead are raised. The effect, therefore, of the near prospect of death was to lead him to put increased confidence in God. He felt that God only could save him; or that God only could sustain him if he should die. Perhaps also he means to say that the effect of this was to lead him to put increased confidence in God after his deliverance; not to trust in his own plans, or to confide in his own strength; but to feel that all that he had was entirely in the hands of God. This is a common, and a happy effect of the near prospect of death to a Christian; and it is well to contemplate the effect on such a mind as that of Paul in the near prospect of dying, and to see how instinctively then it clings to God. A true Christian in such circumstances will rush to His arms and feel that there he is safe.

But in God which raiseth the dead - Intimating that a rescue in such circumstances would be like raising the dead. It is probable that on this occasion Paul was near dying; that he had given up all hope of life - perhaps, as at Lystra Acts 14:19, he was supposed to be dead. He felt, therefore, that he was raised up by the immediate power of God, and regarded it as an exertion of the same power by which the dead are raised. Paul means to intimate that so far as depended on any power of his own, he was dead. He had no power to recover himself, and but for the gracious interposition of God he would have died.

9. But—"Yea."

in God which raiseth the dead—We had so given up all thoughts of life, that our only hope was fixed on the coming resurrection; so in 1Co 15:32 his hope of the resurrection was what buoyed him up in contending with foes, savage as wild beasts. Here he touches only on the doctrine of the resurrection, taking it for granted that its truth is admitted by the Corinthians, and urging its bearing on their practice.

But we had the sentence of death in ourselves; we verily thought we should have been killed; and so it is expounded by the last words of the former verse,

we despaired even of life. And this God did to teach us, that we should, when we are in dangers, look above the creature, and have no confidence in created means, but only look up to him, who

raiseth the dead; as Abraham offered up Isaac, Hebrews 11:17-19, accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead. Abraham had a promise to bottom such a faith upon; God had told him: That in Isaac his seed should be called: so had Paul, God having revealed to him, that he had a farther work for him to do. So have not all Christians; we do not know our courses, nor what work God hath in his eternal counsels laid out for us, and therefore cannot be confident of deliverances in this life by the Almighty power of God; but yet we, under our greatest trials, may trust in God, who will certainly raise us from the dead; of which faith we have an instance in Job, Job 19:25-27. However, for our comfort in our distresses we may observe: That God, in his great deliverances of his people, useth to suffer them first to be brought to the greatest extremities; that in the mount of the Lord it may be seen, and that they may learn to know that their salvations are from him; more from his Almighty power, than from the virtue of any means they can use, though yet it be our duty to use what lawful means his providence affordeth us. But we had the sentence of death in ourselves,.... By the sentence of death is meant, not any decree of heaven, or appointment of God that they should die; nor any sentence of condemnation and death passed on them by the civil magistrate; but an opinion or persuasion in their own breasts, that they should die; so far were they from any hopes of life, that they looked upon themselves as dead men, as the Egyptians did, when their firstborn were slain, and said, "we be all dead men", Exodus 12:33, and to this extremity they were suffered to be brought by the wise counsel of God, for the following purposes, to learn to lay aside all self-trust and confidence:

that we should not trust in ourselves; in our strength, wisdom, and policy, to make our escape, and preserve our lives; and also to teach and encourage them to trust in God alone, and depend on his arm, on his almighty power:

but in God which raiseth the dead; who will raise the dead at the last day, and so is able to deliver persons when they are in the most distressed condition, and in their own opinion as dead men.

But we had the sentence of death in {f} ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead:

(f) I was resolved within myself to die.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
2 Corinthians 1:9. Ἀλλά] is the simple but, the contrast of the negation contained in ἐξαπορηθῆναι, which contrast, nevertheless, no longer depends on ὥστε: the independent position makes it all the weightier. There is therefore the less ground for taking ἀλλά as nay indeed, with Hofmann, and making it point to the following clause of purpose, whereby the chief clause αὐτοὶ κ.τ.λ. would be arbitrarily forced into a position logically subordinate—viz., “if we ourselves, etc., it was to serve to the end, that we,” et.

αὐτοὶ ἐν ἑαυτοῖς] for our own selves in our own consciousnessi.e. apart from what might take place from without, through divine interference, to cause a change in our position. This certainty in their own heart, however, could not but exclude all self-confidence; hence ἵνα μὴ πεποιθότες κ.τ.λ.

ἀπόκριμα] not equivalent to κατάκριμα (so most, following Hesychius), but to responsum (Vulgate, Billroth), the award, decision. Comp. ἀπόκρισις. So in Suidas (see Wetstein) and Josephus, Antt. xiv. 17 (in Kypke). Chrysostom says well: τὴν ψῆφον, τὴν κρίσιν, τὴν προσδοκίαν τοιαύτην γὰρ ἠφίει τὰ πράγματα φωνήν· τοιαύτην ἀπόκρισιν ἐδίδου τὰ συμβάντα, ὅτι ἀ̓ποθανούμεθα πάντως.

As to ἐσχήκ., observe the perfect habuimus, which represents the situation as present. Comp. on Romans 5:2.

ἵνα μὴ κ.τ.λ.] divinely appointed aim of the αὐτοὶἐσχήκαμεν. Comp. 1 Corinthians 1:15.

τῷ ἐγείροντι τοὺς νεκρ.] is to be referred not only to the future awaking of the dead, but to the awaking of the dead in general, as that which is exclusively God’s doing. This characteristic of God is the ground of the confidence. For the awaker of the dead must also be able to rescue from the danger of death (2 Corinthians 1:10). Comp. Romans 4:17; Hebrews 11:19. See on Rom. l.c. “Mira natura fidei in summis difficultatibus nullum exitum habere visis,” Bengel. Hence Paul, in spite of the human ἐξαπορηθῆναι, 2 Corinthians 1:8, could yet say of himself, 2 Corinthians 4:8 : οὐκ ἐξαπορούμενοι.2 Corinthians 1:9. ἀλλὰ αὐτοὶ κ.τ.λ.: nay, we ourselves had the sentence of death in ourselves; i.e., the danger was so great that the sentence of death had been already pronounced, as it were. ἀπόκριμα might mean “answer,” as the Revisers translate it (they give sentence, with the A.V., in their margin); cf. the verb ἀποκρίνειν. But in the other places where this rare word is found (e.g., Jos., Ant., xiv. 10, 6, and an inscription of 51 A.D., quoted by Deissmann, Neue Bibelstudien, p. 85) it stands for an official decision or sentence. Cf. κρίμα θανάτου, “the sentence of death” (Sir 41:3). The tense of ἐσχήκαμεν is noteworthy; it seems to be a kind of historical perfect, used like an aorist (cf. chap. 2 Corinthians 2:13, 2 Corinthians 11:25, Revelation 5:7; Revelation 8:5, for a similar usage).—ἵνα μὴ πεποιθότες κ.τ.λ.: i.e., “the gravity of the danger was such as to impress upon me the vanity of putting my trust anywhere save in God, who has the power of life and death”. God can “raise the dead” (see chap. 2 Corinthians 4:14); much more can He bring back the dying from the gates of death.9. sentence] The word thus translated occurs only here in the N. T. It is translated answer by Wiclif, Tyndale, and Cranmer: the word sentence having been adopted by our translators from the Geneva version. At that time, however, the word sentence had not quite the same meaning which it bears now, but had rather the force of the Latin sententia, opinion. See Acts 15:19. The word signifies not the answer itself, but rather the purport of the answer, as though the result of the Apostle’s self-questionings had been a rooted persuasion, implanted from above, that, as he says in ch. 2 Corinthians 4:12, ‘Death worketh in us, but life in you,’ a rooted persuasion, that is, of the transitoriness of the natural life, of the permanence of the new life that comes from God. Cf. 1 Corinthians 4:9, especially in the Greek.2 Corinthians 1:9. Ἀλλὰ, but) i.e. nay; supply, for this reason we ourselves, etc.; that not, etc.—τὸ ἀπόκριμα) Hesychius says, ἀπόκριμα, κατάκριμα, ψῆφον. ἀποκρίνειν, to pass sentence on one condemned, to consider him as dead. The antithesis is trusting. Simonius takes a different view.—ἀλλʼ ἐπὶ, but in) illustrating the wonderful nature of faith in the greatest difficulties, which seem to have no means of escape.—ἐγείροντι, who raiseth) 1 Corinthians 15. He had written at great length on the resurrection of the dead; he now repeatedly touches on the same doctrine, and, taking for granted, that its truth is admitted by the Corinthians, urges its bearing upon their practice.Verse 9. - But; perhaps rather, yea. The word strengthens the phrase, "were in utter perplexity." We had the sentence of death in ourselves. The original is more emphatic, "Ourselves in our own selves we have had." Not only did all the outer world look dark to me, but the answer which my own spirit returned to the question," What will be the end of it all?" was "Death!" and that doom still seems to echo in my spirit. The sentence; rather, the answer. The word is unique in the LXX. and the New Testament. In ourselves. Because I seemed to myself to be beyond all human possibility of deliverance. That we should not trust in ourselves. There was a divinely intended meaning in my despair. It was meant to teach me, not only submission, but absolute trust in God (see Jeremiah 17:5, 7). Which raiseth the dead. Being practically dead - utterly crushed with anguish and despairing of deliverance - I learnt by my deliverance to have faith in God as one who can raise men even from the dead. Sentence of death (ἀπόκριμα τοῦ θανάτου)

Ἁπόκριμα, occurs only here in the New Testament, and not in classical Greek nor in the Septuagint. In the latter the kindred words have, almost uniformly, the meaning of answer. Josephus used it of a response of the Roman senate. Sentence, which occurs in some inscriptions, if a legitimate rendering at all, is a roundabout one, derived from a classical use of the verb ἀποκρίνω to reject on inquiry, decide. Rev., therefore, correctly, answer of death. The sense is well given by Stanley: "When I have asked myself what would be the issue of this struggle, the answer has been, 'death."'

Doth deliver (ῥύεται)

The correct reading is ῥύσεται will deliver, Rev.

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