2 Corinthians 13:3
Since you seek a proof of Christ speaking in me, which to you-ward is not weak, but is mighty in you.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(3) Which to you-ward is not weak.—There is still a touch of indignant sadness in the tone in which the words are uttered. Men will not be able to cast that reproach of weakness upon Him whose might they will feel all too keenly.

13:1-6 Though it is God's gracious method to bear long with sinners, yet he will not bear always; at length he will come, and will not spare those who remain obstinate and impenitent. Christ at his crucifixion, appeared as only a weak and helpless man, but his resurrection and life showed his Divine power. So the apostles, how mean and contemptible soever they appeared to the world, yet, as instruments, they manifested the power of God. Let them prove their tempers, conduct, and experience, as gold is assayed or proved by the touchstone. If they could prove themselves not to be reprobates, not to be rejected of Christ, he trusted they would know that he was not a reprobate, not disowned by Christ. They ought to know if Christ Jesus was in them, by the influences, graces, and indwelling of his Spirit, by his kingdom set up in their hearts. Let us question our own souls; either we are true Christians, or we are deceivers. Unless Christ be in us by his Spirit, and power of his love, our faith is dead, and we are yet disapproved by our Judge.Since ye seek a proof of Christ speaking in me - see the notes on the previous chapters. They had called in question his apostolic authority; they had demanded the evidence of his divine commission. He says that he would now furnish such evidence by inflicting just punishment on all offenders, and they should have abundant proof that Christ spoke by him, or that he was inspired.

Which to you-ward is not weak - Or who, that is, Christ, is not weak, etc. Christ has manifested his power abundantly toward you, that is, either by the miracles that had been performed in his name; or by the diseases and calamities which they had suffered on account of their disorders and offences (see the note on 1 Corinthians 11:30); or by the force and efficacy of his doctrine. The connection, it seems to me, requires that we should understand it of the calamities which had been inflicted by Christ on them for their sins, and which Paul says would be inflicted again if they did not repent. The idea is, that they had had ample demonstration of the power of Christ to inflict punishment, and they had reason to apprehend it again.

3. Since—The reason why he will not spare: Since ye challenge me to give a "proof" that Christ speaks in me. It would be better if ye would "prove your own selves" (2Co 13:5). This disproves the assertion of some that Scripture nowhere asserts the infallibility of its writers when writing it.

which—"who" (Christ).

is not weak—in relation to you, by me and in this very Epistle, in exercising upon you strong discipline.

mighty in you—has given many proofs of His power in miracles, and even in punishing offenders (2Co 5:11, 20, 21). Ye have no need to put me to the proof in this, as long ago Christ has exhibited great proofs of His power by me among you (2Co 12:12) [Grotius]. It is therefore not me, but Christ, whom ye wrong: it is His patience that ye try in despising my admonitions, and derogating from my authority [Calvin].

Christ (saith the apostle) hath openly showed his power in my ministry, speaking to you; how else came your hearts to be turned from dumb idols to serve the living God? How came you to be furnished with those excellent gifts wherewith you abound? But, seeing all this is not judged a sufficient proof of Christ’s

speaking in me to you, but you are yet doubting whether I am an apostle or no, and calling for

a proof of Christ in me; I will, if I come, and find any that have lived scandalously, and are impenitent, show you another proof of that power and authority with which Christ hath trusted me. Which must be understood, either of his miraculous power to inflict some bodily afflictions upon them, or (which is more probable) of his power as an apostle to cut them off from the communion of gospel churches. Since ye seek a proof of Christ speaking in me,.... This is the reason why he was determined, that should he come among them, he would not spare them, because they called in question his apostleship, and demanded a proof of it; which, of all men, they had the least reason to do; for they themselves were the seals of his apostleship, and the signs of an apostle had been done among them; they queried whether he was an ambassador of Christ, and was sent by him, and in his name; whether the message he came with was from him, and whether the Gospel he preached was his voice; and particularly whether he had such a power to punish delinquents, as he threatened them with the exercise of; a strange infatuation of the false apostles this, since Christ, who sent him, was with him, and spoke in him, and by him:

which to you-ward, says he,

is not weak, but is mighty in you; the Gospel of Christ, at the first preaching of it to them by him, was the power of God unto salvation to them; and was attended with divers signs and wonders, and gifts of the Holy Ghost; and besides, they had instances of the power of Christ towards them in an awful way, in punishing sinners; as in the delivery of the incestuous person to Satan, which was done by his Spirit being with them when assembled; and by smiting many of them with sickness, diseases, and infirmities, and with death itself, who had sinned, 1 Corinthians 5:4. Wherefore, seeing after all these instances of the voice and power of Christ in him, they yet questioned his apostolical authority, and sought proof of it; and especially since this was not so much a tempting of him, as a tempting of Christ in him, he was resolved not to spare them.

{1} Since ye seek a proof of Christ speaking in me, which to you-ward is not weak, but is {a} mighty in you.

(1) A most sharp reprehension, because, while they despise the apostle's admonitions, they tempt Christ's own patience: and also while they condemn him as wretched and miserable, they lay nothing against him, which is not common to him with Christ.

(a) And will be most mighty to be avenged upon you, when need will be.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
2 Corinthians 13:3. I will not spare you; for ye in fact will not have it otherwise! Ye challenge, in fact, by your demeanour, an experimental proof of the Christ that speaks in me. Thus ἐπεί, before which we are to conceive a pause, annexes the cause serving as motive of the οὐ φείσομαι, that was under the prevailing circumstances at work. Emmerling begins a protasis with ἐπεί, parenthesizes ὃς εἰς ὑμᾶς κ.τ.λ., and the whole fourth verse, and regards ἑαυτοὺς πειράζετε in 2 Corinthians 13:5 as apodosis. So, too, Lachmann, Olshausen, Ewald, who, however, treat as a parenthesis merely 2 Corinthians 13:4. This division as a whole would not yield as its result any illogical connection, for, because the readers wish to put Christ to the proof, it was the more advisable for them to prove themselves. But the passage is rendered, quite unnecessarily, more complicated and cumbrou.

ἐπεὶ δοκιλὴν ζητεῖτε κ.τ.λ.] That is, since you make it your aim that the Christ speaking in me shall verify Himself, shall give you a proof of His judicial working. To take τοῦΧριστοῦ as genitive of the subject (comp. 2 Corinthians 9:13; Php 2:22) better suits the following ὃς καὶ ὑμᾶς κ.τ.λ., than the objective rendering (Billroth and Rückert, following older expositors): a proof of the fact that Christ speaks in me.

ὃς εἰς ὑμᾶς οὐκ ἀσθενεῖ κ.τ.λ.] who in reference to you is not impotent, but mighty among you. By this the readers are made to feel how critical and dangerous is their challenge of Christ practically implied in the evil circumstances of the church (2 Corinthians 12:20 f.), for the Christ speaking in the apostle is not weak towards them, but provided with power and authority among them, as they would feel, if He should give them a practical attestation of Himself. A special reference of δυνατεῖ ἐν ὑμῖν to the miracles, spiritual gifts, and the like, such as Erasmus, Grotius,[394] Fritzsche,[395] de Wette, and others assume, is not implied in the connection (see especially 2 Corinthians 13:4); and just as little a retrospective reference to 2 Corinthians 10:10 (Hofmann).

Of the use of the verb ΔΥΝΑΤΕῖΝ no examples from other writers are found, common as was ἈΔΥΝΑΤΕῖΝ. Its use in this particular place by Paul was involuntarily suggested to him by the similar sound of the opposite ἀσθενεῖ. Yet he has it also in Romans 14:4; as regards 2 Corinthians 9:8, see the critical remarks on that passag.

ἘΝ ὙΜῖΝ] not of the internal indwelling and pervading (Hofmann), which is at variance with the context, since the latter has the penal retribution as its main point; but the Christ speaking in Paul has the power of asserting Himself de facto as the vindex of His word and work in the church, so far as it is disobedient to Him and impenitent.

[394] Grotius: “Non opus habetis ejus rei periculum facere, cum jampridem Christus per me apud vos ingentia dederit potentiae suae signa.”

[395] Fritzsche, Diss. II. p 141: “qui Christus χαρίσματα largiendo, miracula regundo, religionis impedimenta tollendo, ecclesiam moderando, ipse vobis se fortem ostendit.” This emphatic ipse is imported,—which arose out of Fritzsche’s regarding the apostle, not Christ, as the subject of δοκιμήν.2 Corinthians 13:3. ἐπεὶ δοκιμὴν κ.τ.λ.: seeing that ye seek a proof of Christ speaking in me (cf. Matthew 10:20), i.e., a proof that I am really an “Apostle” with a “mission” from Christ to speak in His Name. This last thought leads him into a short digression. “He who has thus commissioned me is not weak, but strong, and this paradoxical strength in weakness is mine also” (2 Corinthians 13:3 b, 4).—ὃς εἰς ἡμᾶς κ.τ.λ.: who is not weak in relation to you, sc., as you think me to be (2 Corinthians 10:10, 2 Corinthians 11:21), but is powerful in your midst. And this is true for two reasons: (a) because of His Resurrection, as the Victor over Death; (b) because of the strength with which He empowers us in the discharge of our duty to you. Each of these reasons is now introduced by καὶ γάρ.3. since ye seek] They had demanded a proof of his power, and he would not fail to give it.

a proof of Christ speaking in me] Literally, of the in-me-speaking Christ. The delicate shade of meaning here can hardly be rendered into English. Perhaps ‘of a Christ who speaks in me’ would be the nearest approach to it. Our version hardly conveys a sufficient idea of the perpetual indwelling of Christ in His members and of the inspiring influence which He constantly exerted on one so devoted to Him as St Paul. See Matthew 10:20. For proof see ch. 2 Corinthians 2:9, 2 Corinthians 8:2. The connection of this verse with what precedes and what follows is to be found in the fact that everything St Paul did, whether in the exercise of his Apostolic power, or in any other way, was done to produce in their lives a conformity to that of Christ. Cf. ch. 6.

which to you-ward is not weak] Rather, Who to you-ward. St Paul continually (see ch. 2 Corinthians 4:10-11, and ch. 11, 12.) identifies himself with Christ, in his weakness as well as his strength. He is going (see next verse) to point to the weakness of Christ as united with his own. But he prefaces this remarkable statement with the observation (cf. 1 Corinthians 4:11) that at present the Corinthians knew little of communion with Christ in His weakness, much of His power to change the heart and life. Cf. 1 Corinthians 1:18; 1 Corinthians 1:24; 1 Corinthians 2:5. Also ch. 2 Corinthians 10:4.2 Corinthians 13:3. Δοχιμὴν ζητεῖτε, ye seek a proof) A metonymy for, you provoke me; you tempt me; you desire to find out what I am; see 2 Corinthians 13:5 [ἑαυτοὺς δοκιμάζετε, prove your own selves].—δοκιμὴ has its conjugates in 2 Corinthians 13:5-6 [ἀδοκιμοι].—τοῦ Χριστοῦ) i.e., whether Christ is speaking in me. The Corinthians had doubts; he presently proves that they ought not to doubt.—εἰς ὑμᾶς, ἐν ὑμῖν, to you-ward, in you) The particles differ; see ch. 2 Corinthians 10:1οὐκ ἀσθενεῖ, is not weak) by me and this very epistle.[91]—δυνατεῖ) The ardour of his mind produced this new word by a paraphrase in respect to ἀσθενεῖ.

[91] [Christ, who] is not weak towards you, as far as I and this very epistle can effect.—ED.Verse 3. - Of Christ speaking in me; rather, of the Christ who speaketh in me. Which; rather, who. But is mighty in you. The spirit of Christ, in spite of all their shortcomings, had not deserted them (see 1 Corinthians 1:6, 7; 1 Corinthians 2:4). A proof of Christ speaking in me (δοκιμὴν τοῦ ἐν ἐμοὶ λαλοῦντος Χριστοῦ)

Lit., of the Christ that speaks in me. An experimental proof of what kind of a being the Christ who speaks in me is.

In you (ἐν ὑμῖν)

Better, among you. He is speaking, not of Christ as He dwells in them, but as He works with reference to them (εἰς) and among their number, inflicting punishment for their sin.

Through (ἐξ)

Lit., out of, marking the source of both death and life.

Are weak in Him

The parallel with 2 Corinthians 13:3 must be carefully noted. Christ will prove Himself not weak, but mighty among you. He was crucified out of weakness, but He is mighty out of the power of God. A similar weakness and power will appear in our case. We are weak in Him, in virtue of our fellowship with Him. Like Him we endure the contradiction of sinners, and suffer from the violence of men: in fellowship with His risen life we shall be partakers of the power of God which raised Him from the dead, and shall exhibit this life of power toward you in judging and punishing you.

Toward you

Construe with we shall live.

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