2 Corinthians 11:2
For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.
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(2) For I am jealous over you . . .—The word is used with the same sense as in the nearly contemporary passage of Galatians 4:17, and the whole passage may be paraphrased thus: “I court your favour with a jealous care, which is not a mere human affection, but after the pattern of that of God.” There is probably an implied contrast between the true jealousy which thus worked in his soul and the false jealousy of which he speaks in the passage just referred to.

For I have espoused you . . .—The word is not found elsewhere in the New Testament. It appears in this sense in the LXX. version of Proverbs 19:14 : “A man’s wife is espoused to him from the Lord.” Strictly speaking, it is used of the act of the father who gives his daughter in marriage; and this, rather than the claim to act as “the friend of the bridegroom” (see Note on John 3:29), is probably the idea here. He claims the office as the “father” of the Corinthian Church (1Corinthians 4:15). The underlying idea of the comparison is that the Church at large, and every separate portion of it, is as the bride of Christ. On the earlier appearances of this thought, see Notes on Matthew 22:2; Matthew 25:1; John 3:29; and, for its more elaborated forms, on Ephesians 5:25-32; Revelation 19:7-9; Revelation 21:2; Revelation 21:9). What the Apostle now urges is that it is as natural for him to be jealous for the purity of the Church which owes its birth to him, as it is for a father to be jealous over the chastity of the daughter whom he has betrothed as to a kingly bridegroom.

11:1-4 The apostle desired to preserve the Corinthians from being corrupted by the false apostles. There is but one Jesus, one Spirit, and one gospel, to be preached to them, and received by them; and why should any be prejudiced, by the devices of an adversary, against him who first taught them in faith? They should not listen to men, who, without cause, would draw them away from those who were the means of their conversion.For I am jealous over you - This verse expresses the reason why he was disposed to speak of his attainments, and of what he had done. It was because he loved them, and because he feared that they were in danger of being seduced from the simplicity of the gospel. The phrase "I am jealous" (Ζηλῶ Zēlō) means properly, I ardently love you; I am full of tender attachment to you. The word was usual among the Greeks to denote an ardent affection of any kind (from ζέω zeō, to boil, to be fervid or fervent). The precise meaning is to be determined by the connection; see the note on 1 Corinthians 12:31. The word may denote the jealousy which is felt by an apprehension of departure from fidelity on the part of those whom we love; or it may denote a fervid and glowing attachment. The meaning here probably is, that Paul had a strong attachment to them.

With godly jealousy - Greek, "with the zeal of God" Θεοῦ ζήλῳ Theou zēlō). That is, with very great or vehement zeal - in accordance with the Hebrew custom when the name God is used to denote any thing signally great, as the phrase "mountains of God," meaning very elevated or lofty mountains. The mention of this ardent attachment suggested what follows. His mind reverted to the tenderness of the marriage relation, and to the possibility that in that relation the affections might be estranged. He makes use of this figure, therefore, to apprize them of the change which he apprehended.

For I have espoused you ... - The word used here (ἁρμόζω harmozō) means properly "to adapt, to fit, to join together." Hence, "to join in wedlock, to marry." Here it means to marry to another; and the idea is, that Paul had been the agent employed in forming a connection, similar to the marriage connection. between them and the Saviour. The allusion here is not certain. It may refer to the custom which prevailed when friends made and procured the marriage for the bridegroom; or it may refer to some custom like that which prevailed among the Lacedemonians where persons were employed to form the lives and manners of virgins and prepare them for the duties of the married life. The sense is clear. Paul claims that it was by his instrumentality that they had been united to the Redeemer. Under him they had been brought into a relation to the Saviour similar to that sustained by the bride to her husband; and he felt all the interest in them which naturally grew out of that fact and from a desire to present them blameless to the pure Redeemer. The relation of the Church to Christ is often represented by marriage; see Ephesians 5:23-33; Revelation 19:7; Revelation 21:9.

To one husband - To the Redeemer.

That I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ - The allusion here, according to Doddridge, is, to the custom among the Greeks "of having an officer whose business it was to educate and form young women, especially those of rank and figure, designed for marriage, and then to present them to those who were to be their husbands, and if this officer through negligence permitted them to be corrupted between the espousals and the consummation of the marriage, great blame would fall upon him." Such a responsibility Paul felt. So anxious was he for the entire purity of that church which was to constitute "the bride, the Lamb's wife;" so anxious that all who were connected with that church should be presented pure in heaven.

2. For I am jealous—The justification of his self-commendations lies in his zealous care lest they should fall from Christ, to whom he, as "the friend of the Bridegroom" (Joh 3:29), has espoused them; in order to lead them back from the false apostles to Christ, he is obliged to boast as an apostle of Christ, in a way which, but for the motive, would be "folly."

godly jealousy—literally, "jealousy of God" (compare 2Co 1:12, "godly sincerity," literally, "sincerity of God"). "If I am immoderate, I am immoderate to God" [Bengel]. A jealousy which has God's honor at heart (1Ki 19:10).

I … espoused you—Paul uses a Greek term applied properly to the bridegroom, just as he ascribes to himself "jealousy," a feeling properly belonging to the husband; so entirely does he identify himself with Christ.

present you as a chaste virgin to Christ—at His coming, when the heavenly marriage shall take place (Mt 25:6; Re 19:7, 9). What Paul here says he desires to do, namely, "present" the Church as "a chaste virgin" to Christ, Christ Himself is said to do in the fuller sense. Whatever ministers do effectively, is really done by Christ (Eph 5:27-32). The espousals are going on now. He does not say "chaste virgins"; for not individual members, but the whole body of believers conjointly constitute the Bride.

Jealousy is a passion in a person which makes him impatient of any rival or partner in the thing or person beloved. The apostle tells them, that he was jealous over them, and thereby lets them know, that he so passionately loved them, as that he was not patient that any should pretend more kindness to them than he had for them; and withal, that he had some fear of them, lest they should be perverted and drawn away from the simplicity of the gospel; upon this account he calls it a

godly jealousy. For (saith he) I have been instrumental to bring you to Christ; this he calls an espousing of them, the union of persons with Christ being expressed in Scripture under the notion of a marriage, Ephesians 5:23, &c. And he expresseth his earnest desire to present them to Christ uncorrupted, like a chaste virgin. For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy,.... He lets them know it was not so much on his own account, or at all with any selfish views, or for any secular interest of his own, that he was so concerned, but it was "a godly jealousy", or a "zeal of God"; which he was inspired with by God, and which was for the honour and glory of God, even Jesus Christ, who is God overall; and for their real good and spiritual welfare, as a church of Christ, that possessed him, which put him upon saying what he was about to do; and what affected him the more was, when he considered himself as a friend of the bridegroom, who had been concerned in the betrothing of them to Christ:

for I have espoused you to one husband; by whom is meant Christ, as the following clause explains it: Christ stands in the relation of an husband to the church catholic and universal; to the whole general assembly and church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven; even to all the elect of God, that ever were, are, or shall be; and so he does to particular congregated churches, as he did to this church at Corinth, and so he does to every individual believer: which character he responds to, by loving them with a love prior to theirs, a love of complacency and delight, which is single, special, and peculiar, strong and affectionate, wonderful and inconceivable, constant, and what will last for ever; by sympathizing with them under all their afflictions, temptations, desertions, and exercises of every kind; by nourishing and cherishing them, which phrases are expressive of the spiritual food and clothing he provides for them, of that intimate communion he admits them to, and of that whole care he takes of them; by paying all their debts, supplying all their wants, supporting them with his right hand, protecting them against all their enemies, giving them grace here, and glory hereafter; and, last of all, by interesting them in his person, and all that he has, in all the blessings and promises of the covenant in his wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption. The act of espousing, the apostle here, with respect to this church, takes to himself, though in another sense, and which is the principal one, it is ascribed to Christ himself, who betroths all his to himself in righteousness, in judgment, in lovingkindness, and tender mercies; he saw them in his Father's purposes and decrees, in all the glory they were designed to be brought unto, when he loved them as his Father did, and desired them for his spouse and bride, which was granted to him; and then secretly in covenant betrothed them to himself, and ever after looked upon them as in a conjugal relation to him; wherefore though they fell in Adam, and became guilty and filthy, he gave himself for them as his church and bride, to sanctify and cleanse them, that he might present them to himself, just such a glorious church he had seen them before. In consequence of this, the Spirit of God attends the ministration of the Gospel, to the conversion of each of these souls, when they become willing to be the Lord's, and give their free and full consent to have him for their husband; and this is the day of their open espousal to him, and in this the apostle had, and other ministers of the Gospel have a concern; he was a means, in the hands of the Spirit, of their regeneration, a minister by whom they believed, an instrument in directing their souls to Christ, by setting forth his unsearchable riches, the glory of his person, and fulness of his grace: as Abraham's servant set forth the greatness of his master, and the large possessions his son was heir to, and brought out his bracelets and ear rings, his jewels of gold and silver, and thereby gained his point, a wife for Isaac; so the Spirit of God going along with the ministration of the apostle so wrought upon these Corinthians, as to give up themselves to the Lord, and take him for their head and husband, Saviour and Redeemer. This was the concern the apostle had herein, and his view, desire, and hope were, to set them before Christ their husband, pure and incorrupt:

that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ; that is, single in their love to, him, strictly adhering to him, and him only, as standing in such a relation to them; pure in the principles of faith, sincere and upright in their worship, and holy in their lives and conversations; nothing was more desirable to him than this, that he might thus present them to Christ at the great day; whereby it would appear, that his labour was not in vain in the Lord: now having been concerned in this affair of espousing them to Christ, and they not yet presented to him, or took home by him, he could not, as things were circumstanced, but entertain a godly jealousy over them in his own breast, lest the false apostles should draw them aside in any degree from their love to Christ, and faith in him.

For I am jealous over you with {a} godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may {b} present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.

(a) He speaks as one who woos them, but yet as one that seeks them not for himself, but for God.

(b) To marry you together.

2 Corinthians 11:2. Ground of the ἀλλὰ καὶ ἀνέχεσθέ μου: My jealousy for you is, in fact, a divine jealousy; how can you then refuse to me the ἀνέχεσθαι! Rückert refers γάρ to ὄφελονἀφροσύνης, but in this way ἀλλὰ καὶ ἀνέχεσθέ μου is overleaped all the more violently, seeing that it is a correction of what goes before. Calvin (comp. Chrysostom and Bengel): “en cur desipiat, nam hominem zelotypia quasi transversum rapit.” Against this may be urged the emphatic θεοῦ, in which lies the very point of the reason assigne.

ζηλῶ γὰρ ὑμᾶς κ.τ.λ.] As Paul, in what follows, represents himself as a marriage-friend (comp. John 3:29) who has betrothed the bride to the bridegroom, and is now anxious that she may not let herself be led astray by another, ζηλῶ is to be taken in the narrowest sense as equivalent to ζηλοτυπῶ: I am jealous concerning you (comp. Numbers 5:14; Sir 9:1), for the marriage-friend very naturally takes the bridegroom’s part. The more indefinite interpretation: I am zealous concerning you (Flatt and others), is therefore, according to the context, too general, and the explanation: vehementer amo vos (Rosenmüller, comp. Fritzsche), is at variance with the contex.

θεοῦ ζήλῳ] with a jealousy, which God has; which is no human passion, but an emotion belonging to God, which I therefore have in common with Him. Paul consequently conceives of God as likewise jealous concerning the Corinthian church (ὑμᾶς), that she might not, as the bride of Christ, suffer herself to be led astray. God appears in the O. T. as the spouse of His people, and therefore jealous regarding it (Isaiah 54:5; Isaiah 62:5; Jeremiah 3:1 ff.; Ezekiel 16:8 ff., Ezekiel 16:23; Hosea 2:18-19). Now, as the representative of God in the theocracy of the N. T. is Christ, with whom, therefore, the church appears connected, partly as spouse (see on Romans 7:4), partly as betrothed (with reference to the completion of the marriage at the Parousia), as here (comp. Ephesians 5:25 ff.); the falling away from Christ must therefore be the object of divine jealousy, and so Paul knows his ζῆλος, the ζῆλος of the marriage-friend, as the ζῆλος of God. θεοῦ has been taken as genitivus auctoris (Wolf and others, comp. Flatt, de Wette), or as: zeal for God (Romans 10:2, so Calvin, Grotius, Estius, Semler, Schulz), or as: zeal pleasing to God (Billroth, comp. Flatt), or as: zeal extraordinarily great (Emmerling, so also Fritzsche; comp. Bengel: “zelo sancto et magno”); but all these interpretations lie beyond the necessary definite reference to what follows, in which a reason is given for the very predicate θεοῦ.

ἡρμοσάμην γὰρ κ.τ.λ.] for I have betrothed you … but I fear, etc., 2 Corinthians 11:3, so that, with Lachmann, only a comma is to be put after 2 Corinthians 11:2. ἁρμόζειν, adaptare, then specially in the sense of betroth; see Wetstein. The more Attic form is ἁρμόττειν. See Gregor. p. 154, Schaef.; Lobeck, ad Phryn. p. 241. That Paul has expressed himself contrary to the Greek usage (according to which ἁρμόζεσθαί τινα means: to betroth oneself to a woman, Herod. v. 32, 47, vi. 65), is only to be said, in so far as a classical writer would certainly have used the active (Herod. ix. 108; Pind. Pyth. ix. 207), although in late writers the middle also occurs in the active sense (see the passages from Philo in Loesner, p. 320, e.g. de Abr. p. 364 B; γάμος ὃν ἁρμόζεται ἡδονή), and here the following ἑνὶ ἀνδρί leaves no doubt of the reference: I have joined (i.e. according to the context, betrothed) you to one husband. Paul regards himself as a marriage-friend (προμνήστωρ ὑμῶν ἐγενόμην καὶ τοῦ γάμου μεσίτης, Theodoret), by whose intervention the betrothal of the Corinthians with Christ was brought to pass. Chrysostom aptly says on the figurative representation of the matter: μνηστείας γάρ ἐστι καιρὸς ὁ παρὼν καιρός· ὁ δὲ τῶν παστάδων ἕτερος, ὅταν λέγωσιν· ἀνέστη ὁ νυμφίοςὋ μάλιστα τούτοις (to the readers) ἔφερεν ἀξίωμα, τοῦτο τίθησιν, ἑαυτὸν μὲν ἐν χώρᾳ τῆς προμνηστρίας, ἐκείνους δὲ ἐν τάξει τῆς νύμφης στήσας. Pelagius, Elsner, Mosheim, Emmerling wrongly hold that he conceives himself as father of the Corinthians; their father (but this figure is here quite out of place) he has, in fact, only come to be through their conversion to Christ (1 Corinthians 4:17; 2 Corinthians 12:14; comp. Titus 1:4); he had not been so already before. Regarding the marriage-friend of the Jews, שׁוֹשְּׁבֵן, παρανύμφιος, who not only wooed the bride for the bridegroom, but who was the constant medium between the two, and at the wedding itself was regulator of the feast, see Schöttgen, Hor. ad Joh. iii. 29. With the Rabbins, Moses is represented as such a marriage-friend. See Rab. Sal. ad Exod. xxxiv. 1, al.

ἑνὶ ἀνδρί] to one husband, to belong to no one furthe.

παρθένον ἁγνὴν κ.τ.λ.] Aim, with which he had betrothed the Corinthians to a single husband: in order to present a pure virgin to Christ (παραστ., comp. 2 Corinthians 4:14), namely, at the Parousia, when Christ appears as bridegroom, to fetch home the bride, Matthew 25:1 ff.; Ephesians 5:27; Revelation 19:7-9. The church in its entirety, as a moral person, is this virgin. On ἁγνήν, comp. Dem. 1371. 23; Plut. Mor. p. 268 E, 438 C; Plat. Legg. viii. p. 840 D. The whole emphasis is on παρθένον ἁγνήν. When this is attended to, there disappears the semblance of εἷς ἀνήρ and ὁ Χριστός being different persons,—a semblance for which Rückert blames the apostle. Fritzsche regards τῷ Χριστῷ as apposition to ἑνὶ ἀνδρί (in which Rückert agrees with him), and encloses παραστῆσαι between two commas; but this is an unnecessary and enfeebling breaking up of the passage. Beza and Bengel connect ἑνὶ ἀνδρί with παραστ., and take τῷ Χριστῷ likewise epexegetically. But the absolute ἡρμοσάμην ὑμᾶς would in fact mean: I have betrothed myself to you! In order that it may not mean this, it must necessarily be joined to ἑνὶ ἀνδρί.2 Corinthians 11:2. ζηλῶ γὰρ ὑμᾶς κ.τ.λ.: for I am jealous over you with a godly jealousy (cf. Zechariah 1:14, and for Θεοῦ ζήλῳ cf. Acts 22:3, Romans 10:2; this “jealousy” of St. Paul is on behalf of God); for I espoused you to one husband, that I might present you as a pure virgin to Christ, sc., at His Coming. The figure of Israel as a Bride presented to Jehovah as the Bridegroom was frequently used by the O.T. prophets (Isaiah 54:5; Isaiah 62:5, Hosea 2:19); and, according to the Rabbis, Moses was the bridesman or paranymph. Here St. Paul conceives of himself as the paranymph (cf. John 3:29) who presents the Church as a pure Bride (cf. Revelation 21:2) to Christ, the heavenly Spouse, the “one husband” to whom she is bound to remain faithful. Some critics have found here an echo of Christ’s words at Matthew 9:15; Matthew 25:1-12; but the similarity does not extend further than the employment of the same image demands. ἁρμόζω in the act. is regularly used of the father of the bride; in the pass. of the bride herself (Proverbs 19:14); and in the mid. generally of the bridegroom, but sometimes (as here) of others.2. with godly jealousy] Literally, with a jealousy of God, i.e. either (1) which comes from Him, or (2) which is pleasing in His sight, or (3) as Chrysostom, with the jealousy with which God is jealous, or (4) with a jealousy for God “like that of the paranymph,” Estius (see next note). The literal rendering in this verse is zealous, zeal. See notes on ch. 2 Corinthians 7:7; 2 Corinthians 7:11, 2 Corinthians 9:2.

for I have espoused you] Rather, I espoused you, i.e. at your conversion, it being the act, rather than its completion, to which St Paul asks attention. Cf. Matthew 22:2; John 3:29; Ephesians 5:25; Ephesians 5:27; Revelation 21:2; Revelation 21:9; Revelation 12:17. Also Isaiah 54:5; Jeremiah 3:14; Ezekiel 16:8; Hosea 2:19-20. St Paul, like St John the Baptist, here represents himself as the friend of the bridegroom, who often (see Art. Marriage in the Dictionary of the Bible) took a prominent part in the negotiation of the marriage.

to one husband] The reference is to such passages as Jeremiah 3:1; Ezekiel 16:15. St Paul betrothed them to Christ, but they gave heed to ‘divers and strange doctrines,’ Hebrews 13:8-9.

present you as a chaste virgin to Christ] i.e. at His coming. Cf. Ephesians 5:27, where Christ is said Himself to present the Church to Himself. The betrothal, in St Paul’s day, as in some Christian countries at the present time, preceded the marriage sometimes by a considerable interval. There is a reference here also to the passages from the O.T. cited above, and to Ezekiel 23 &c.2 Corinthians 11:2. Ζηλῶ γὰρ, for I am jealous) In this and the following verse the cause of his folly is set before us: for lovers seem to be out of their wits.[75] The cause of the forbearance due to Paul is explained 2 Corinthians 11:4, comp. 2 Corinthians 11:20.—Θεοῦ ζήλῳ, with a godly jealousy) a great and holy jealousy. [If I am immoderate, says he, I am immoderate to God.—V. g.]—ἡρμοσάμην, I have espoused) There is an apposition, to one husband, viz. Christ, and both are construed with, that I may present you [viz. to one husband, Christ]. Therefore I espoused is put absolutely. [But Engl. V. I have espoused you to one husband.] Moreover ἁρμόζομαι, I espouse, is usually applied to the bridegroom. But here Paul speaks of himself in the same feeling of mind as when he ascribes to himself ‘jealousy,’ which belongs properly to the husband; for all that he felt, and all that he did, was for the sake of Christ.—παρθἑνον ἁγνὴν, a chaste virgin) not singly [the individual members], but conjointly [the whole body together]. He does not say, chaste virgins, παρθένους ἁγνάς.

[75] The Latin words are, “amantes enim videntur amentes,” which cannot be imitated in a translation.—T.Verse 2. - For. This gives the reason why they bore with him. It was due to a reciprocity of affection. I am jealous over you. The word implies both jealousy and zeal (2 Corinthians 7:7; 2 Corinthians 9:2). With a godly jealousy; literally, with a jealousy of God. My jealousy is not the poor earthly vice (Numbers 5:14; Ecclus. 9:1), but a heavenly zeal of love. For I have espoused you; rather, for I betrothed you; at your conversion. I acted as the paranymph, or "bridegroom's friend" (John 3:29), in bringing you to Christ, the Bridegroom. The metaphor is found alike in the Old and New Testaments (Isaiah 54:5; Ezekiel 23; Hosea 2:19; Ephesians 5:25-27). To one husband (Jeremiah 3:1; Ezekiel 16:15). Our Lord used an analogous metaphor in the parable of the king's wedding feast, the virgins, etc. That I may present you. The same word as in 2 Corinthians 4:14. The conversion of the Church was its betrothal to Christ, brought about by St. Paul as the paranymph; and, in the same capacity, at the final marriage feast, he would present their Church as a pure bride to Christ at his coming (Revelation 19:7-9). I am jealous (ζηλῶ)

The translation is correct. The word is appropriate to the image which follows, in which Paul represents himself as the marriage-friend who has betrothed the bride to the bridegroom, and consequently shares the bridegroom's jealousy of his bride (see on John 3:29). Compare the Old-Testament passages in which God is represented as the spouse of His people: Isaiah 54:5; Isaiah 62:5; Jeremiah 3:1; Ezekiel 16:8; Hosea 2:18, Hosea 2:19. For the different senses of the word, see on envying, James 3:14. Theodoret's comment on the passage is: "I was your wooer for your husband, and the mediator of your marriage; through me you received the bridegroom's gifts; wherefore I am now affected with jealousy."

I have espoused (ἡρμοσάμην)

Only here in the New Testament. Lit., have fitted together. Used in the classics of carpenter's or joiner's work; of arranging music, tuning instruments, and fitting clothes or armor. As here, of betrothing or taking to wife. The Septuagint usage is substantially the same.


Compare Ephesians 5:27.

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