2 Corinthians 1:23
Moreover I call God for a record on my soul, that to spare you I came not as yet to Corinth.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(23) I call God for a record.—Better, I call upon God as a witness against my soul. The thought seems to come across St. Paul’s mind that the Corinthians will require a more specific explanation of his change of plan, and he finds this in what had been in part suggested in 1Corinthians 4:21. Had he carried out his first purpose, he would have come to punish or chastise. He had been, on this account, reluctant to come. His not coming was an act of leniency.

I came not as yet.—Better, I came no morei.e., not a second time after his first visit. The Greek adverb cannot possibly mean “not yet.”

2 Corinthians 1:23-24. Moreover, I call God to record — As if he had said, That you may believe me in what I am going to affirm, I call God as a witness, upon, or against my soul — If I do not speak the truth. Was not Paul now speaking by the Spirit? And can a more solemn oath be conceived? Who then can imagine that Christ ever designed to forbid swearing? That to spare you — That out of tenderness to you, and to avoid punishing you; I came not as yet to Corinth — That is, I deferred coming, lest I should be obliged to use severity against you. He says elegantly, to Corinth, not to you, when he is intimating his power to punish. Not that we have dominion over your faith — Power to impose upon you articles of faith or rules of practice, which the Lord hath not enjoined, or have any authority to dictate what you should believe or do; this is the prerogative of God alone: nor would we exert the power with which Christ hath endowed us, to any tyrannical or overbearing purposes. But are helpers of your joy — Co- workers with Christ to promote your comfort, by establishing you in that faith from which all comfort springs; for by faith ye stand Εστηκατε, ye have stood hitherto, and this will be a means of strengthening your faith, by which alone you can continue in the favour of God, and in union with him, and obtain a right and title to eternal life. Here we see the light in which ministers should always consider themselves, and in which they are to be considered by others; not as having dominion over the faith of their people, or having a right to dictate by their own authority what they shall believe, or what they shall do, but as helpers of their joy, by helping them forward in faith and holiness. In this view how amiable does their office appear! and how friendly to the happiness of mankind! How far then are they from true benevolence who would expose it to ridicule and contempt? 1:15-24 The apostle clears himself from the charge of levity and inconstancy, in not coming to Corinth. Good men should be careful to keep the reputation of sincerity and constancy; they should not resolve, but on careful thought; and they will not change unless for weighty reasons. Nothing can render God's promises more certain: his giving them through Christ, assures us they are his promises; as the wonders God wrought in the life, resurrection, and ascension of his Son, confirm faith. The Holy Spirit makes Christians firm in the faith of the gospel: the quickening of the Spirit is an earnest of everlasting life; and the comforts of the Spirit are an earnest of everlasting joy. The apostle desired to spare the blame he feared would be unavoidable, if he had gone to Corinth before he learned what effect his former letter produced. Our strength and ability are owing to faith; and our comfort and joy must flow from faith. The holy tempers and gracious fruits which attend faith, secure from delusion in so important a matter.Moreover, I call God for a record upon my soul - It is well remarked by Rosenmuller, that the second chapter should have commenced here, since there is here a transition in the subject more distinct than where the second chapter is actually made to begin. Here Tyndale commences the second chapter. This verse, with the subsequent statements, is designed to show them the true reason why he had changed his purpose, and had not visited them according to his first proposal. And that reason was not that he was fickle and inconstant; but it was that he apprehended that if he should go to them in their irregular and disorderly state, he would be under a necessity of resorting to harsh measures, and to a severity of discipline that would be alike painful to them and to him. Dr. Paley has shown with great plausibility, if not with moral certainty, that Paul's change of purpose about visiting them was made before he wrote his First Epistle; that he had at first resolved to visit them, but that on subsequent reflection, he thought it would be better to try the effect of a faithful letter to them, admonishing them of their errors, and entreating them to exercise proper discipline themselves on the principal offender; that with this feeling he wrote his First Epistle, in which he does not state to them as yet his change of purpose, or the reason of it; but that now after he had written that letter, and after it had had all the effect which he desired, he states the true reason why he had not visited them.

It was now proper to do it; and that reason was, that he desired to spare them the severity of discipline, and had resorted to the more mild and affectionate measure of sending them a letter, and thus not making it necessary personally to administer discipline; see Paley's Horae Paulinae, on 2 Corinthians, Numbers 4 and 5. The phrase, "I call God for a record upon my soul," is in the Greek, "I call God for a witness against my soul." It is a solemn oath, or appeal to God; and implies, that if he did not in that case declare the truth, he desired that God would be a witness against him, and would punish him accordingly. The reason why he made this solemn appeal to God was, the importance of his vindicating his own character before the church, from the charges which had been brought against him.

That to spare you - To avoid the necessity of inflicting punishment on you; of exercising severe and painful discipline. If he went among them in the state of irregularity and disorder which prevailed there, he would feel it to be necessary to exert his authority as an apostle, and remove at once the offending members from the church. He expected to avoid the necessity of these painful acts of discipline, by sending to them a faithful and affectionate epistle, and thus inducing them to reform, and to avoid the necessity of a resort to that which would have been so trying to him and to them. It was not, then, a disregard for them, or a lack of attachment to them, which had led him to change his purpose, but it was the result of tender affection. This cause of the change of his propose, of course, he would not make known to them in his First Epistle, but now that that letter had accomplished all he had desired, it was proper that they should be apprized of the reason why he had resorted to this instead of visiting them personally.

23. Moreover I—Greek, "But I (for my part)," in contrast to God who hath assured us of His promises being hereafter fulfilled certainly (2Co 1:20-22).

call God—the all-knowing One, who avenges wilful unfaithfulness to promises.

for a record upon my soul—As a witness as to the secret purposes of my soul, and a witness against it, if I lie (Mal 3:5).

to spare you—in order not to come in a rebuking spirit, as I should have had to come to you, if I had come then.

I came not as yet—Greek, "no longer"; that is, I gave up my purpose of then visiting Corinth. He wished to give them time for repentance, that he might not have to use severity towards them. Hence he sent Titus before him. Compare 2Co 10:10, 11, which shows that his detractors represented him as threatening what he had not courage to perform (1Co 4:18, 19).

Here is a perfect form of an oath, which is nothing else but a solemn calling of God to witness the truth of what we speak, whether promising or asserting. Those words,

upon my soul, also have the force of an imprecation; but it is in a very serious thing: the apostle was deeply charged with levity, for not making good his promise in coming; and because he reasonably presumed, that some amongst them would be difficult to believe the true cause, to gain credit with them, he takes a voluntary oath, which in weighty matters is lawful (though sometimes it be done not before a magistrate). The thing he thus attests is: That he hitherto had forborne to come out of kindness to them; to

spare them, (as he phraseth it), which may either be understood of their purses, for he could not have gone without some charge to them, though he took no standing salary from them for preaching: or (as others possibly judge better) to spare their persons; for if he had come before they had reformed those abuses that were amongst them, he must (as he before spake) have come unto them with a rod. Moreover, I call God for a record upon my soul,.... The apostle having asserted his stability, both as a minister and a Christian, which, with others, he had from God, appeals to him in the most solemn manner, in full form of an oath, for the truth of what he was about to say; and is all one as if he had said, I swear by the living God, the searcher of all hearts; I call upon him to attest what I say, and bear witness to my soul, that it is true,

that to spare you, I came not as yet unto Corinth; however fickle, unstable, and inconstant, it may be insinuated to you I am, or you may take me to be, I do assure you in the name and presence of God, that the true reason of my not coming to you hitherto, since I gave you reason to expect me, was, that I might not be burdensome or chargeable to you; or I have delayed coming to you, hoping for a reformation among you, that when I do come, I may not come with a rod, and severely chastise you for the many disorders among you; that I might not use sharpness according to the power God has given me, in an extraordinary way, as an apostle, to punish for offences committed. Hence we learn, that an oath is a solemn appeal to God, and may be lawfully made in cases of moment and importance, as this of the apostle's was; whose character was traduced, and with which was connected the usefulness of his ministry; and it being an affair that could not be determined in any other way, and an oath being for confirmation, and to put an end to strife, he makes one in this serious and awful manner.

{14} Moreover I call God for a record upon my {z} soul, that to spare you I came not as yet unto Corinth.

(14) Now coming to the matter, he swears that he did not lightly alter his purpose of coming to them, but rather that he did not come to them for this reason, that he, being present, might not be forced to deal more sharply with them than he would like.

(z) Against myself, and to the danger of my own life.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
2 Corinthians 1:23. After Paul has vindicated himself (2 Corinthians 1:16-22) from the suspicion of fickleness and negligence raised against him on account of his changing the plan of his journey, he proceeds in an elevated tone to give, with the assurance of an oath (2 Corinthians 11:31; Romans 1:9; Galatians 1:20), the reason why he had not come to Corint.

ἐγὼ δέ] Hitherto he has spoken communicativè, not talking of himself exclusively. Now, however, to express his own self-determination, he continues: but I for my own part, etc.

For examples of ἐπικαλεῖσθαι τὸν Θεὸν μάρτυρα, see Wetstein. Comp. Hom. Il. xxii. 254. Θεοὺς ἐπιδώμεθα· τοὶ γὰρ ἄριστοι μάρτυροι ἔσσονται, Plat. Legg. ii p. 664 C.

ἐπὶ τ. ἐμ. ψυχ.] not: against my soul, in which case it would be necessary arbitrarily to supply si fallo (Grotius; comp. Osiander and others, also Ernesti, Urspr. d. Sünde, II. p. 102), but, in reference to (for) my soul, “in qua rerum mearum mihi conscius sum, quam perimi nolim,” Bengel. It expresses the moral reference of the invocation, and belongs to ἐπικαλ., in which act Paul has in view that he thereby stakes the salvation (Hebrews 10:39; 1 Peter 1:9; Jam 1:21) or ruin of his soul (Romans 2:9). Comp. the second commandmen.

φειδόμενος ὑμ.] exercising forbearance towards you. This was implied in the very fact of his not coming. Had he come, it must have been ἐν ῥαβδῷ, 1 Corinthians 4:21. Comp. 2 Corinthians 2:1.

οὐκέτι not again, as would have accorded with my former plan, 2 Corinthians 1:16. But since this former plan is altered already in 1 Corinthians 16:5 f., the ἔτι in οὐκέτι must refer to a visit preceding our first Epistl.

εἰς Κόρινθον] “eleganter pro ad vos in sermone potestatem ostendente,” Bengel.2 Corinthians 1:23-24. THE REAL REASON OF THE POSTPONEMENT OF HIS VISIT TO CORINTH WAS THAT HE DID NOT WISH HIS NEXT VISIT TO BE PAINFUL, AS THE LAST HAD BEEN.23. I call God for a record upon my soul] Literally, to witness, as the Rhemish version. Tyndale, whom the other translators follow, has recorde. Either (1) I call God to witness against my soul, i.e. to avenge my perjury (so Calvin and Grotius; Wiclif, agens), or (2) on behalf of my soul, as appealing to God as a witness of his sincerity. See Romans 1:9; Romans 9:1; Galatians 1:20; Php 1:8; 1 Thessalonians 2:5. Also ch. 2 Corinthians 11:31. In these passages, however, the form of the expression is different. The word here translated ‘call for a record’ is not used in Scripture in a bad sense. It signifies (1) to surname, as in Matthew 10:3; (2) to appeal, as in Acts 25:11; and (3) to call upon, as in Acts 22:16; 1 Corinthians 1:2, &c. Augustine and other commentators have remarked that it is lawful for a Christian to take an oath upon a proper occasion. Cf. Matthew 26:63.

that to spare you I came not as yet unto Corinth] Though St Paul could ‘use sharpness’ if need so required he desired, as the minister of the God of love, rather to come in the ‘spirit of meekness.’2 Corinthians 1:23. Ἐγὼ δὲ, but I) The particle but forms an antithesis: I was minded to come, but I have not yet come.—τὸν Θεὸν, God) the omniscient.—ἐπικαλοῦμαι, I call upon) The apostle makes oath.—ἐπὶ, upon) a weighty expression.—ψυχὴν, soul) in which I am conscious of all that passes within myself, and which I would not wish to be destroyed.—φειδόμενος, sparing) a term of large meaning; therefore it is presently after explained: He is able to spare, who has dominion; he also spares, who causes joy rather than sorrow. It confirms this force of the [in his] explanation, in that he says, not for that[9] we have dominion: not, seeing that we have not [i.e. because we have not] dominion.—εἰς Κόρινθον, to Corinth) This is elegantly used for to you, in using words showing his power. If face to face with them, he would have had to act with greater sternness:[10] for his presence would have been more severe. Comp. Exodus 33:3; Hosea 11:9. Therefore the apostle had sent Titus before him.

[9] On the ground that.

[10] 2 Corinthians 10:10-11.Verse 23. - Moreover I call God for a record; rather, But I call God for a witness. At this point, to 2 Corinthians 2:4, he enters for the first time on the kindly reasons which had led him to forego his intended earlier visit. He uses a similar adjuration in 2 Corinthians 11:31; and although these appeals (comp. 1 Corinthians 15:31; Romans 1:9; Galatians 1:20) may be due in part to the emotional fervour of his temperament, yet he would hardly have resorted to them in this self defence, if the calumnies of his enemies had not gained much credence. The French proverb, Qui s'excuse s'accuse, is often grossly abused. The refutation of lies and slanders is often a duty, not because they injure us, but because, by diminishing our usefulness, they may injure others. Upon my soul. Not "to take vengeance on my soul if I lie," but to confirm the appeal of its honesty and integrity. By the use of such "oaths for confirmation," St. Paul, no less than other apostles, shows that he understood our Lord's rule, "Let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay," as applying to the principle of simple and unvarnished truthfulness of intercourse, which requires no further confirmation; but not as a rigid exclusion of the right to appeal to God in solemn cases and for good reasons. To spare you. This postponement of the intended visit was a sign of .forbearance, for which they should have been grateful. After all that he had heard of them, if he had come at all, it could only have been "with a rod" (1 Corinthians 4:21). I came not as yet. The rendering is erroneous. It literally means "I no longer came," i.e. I forbore to come as I had intended. I call God for a record (τὸν Θεὸν ἐπικαλοῦμαι)

Rev., better, witness. A common classical idiom. Compare Plato: "Next will follow the choir of young men under the age of thirty, who will call upon the god Paean to testify to the truth of these words" ("Laws," 664). Homer: "For the gods will be the best witnesses" ("Iliad," xxii., 254). Compare Romans 1:9; Galatians 1:20; Philippians 1:8; 1 Thessalonians 2:5, 1 Thessalonians 2:10; Genesis 31:50, Sept. This particular form of expression occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. The verb is often translated appeal, as Acts 25:11, Acts 25:12. Also to call upon, in the sense of supplication, Romans 10:12, Romans 10:13, Romans 10:14; 1 Corinthians 1:2.

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