2 Corinthians 11:3
But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.
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(3) But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent . . .—An allusive reference to the history of Genesis 3, which meets us again in 1Timothy 3:13-15. St. Paul either takes for granted that the disciples at Corinth will recognise the “serpent” as the symbol of the great Tempter, as in Revelation 12:9; or, without laying stress on that identification, simply compares the work of the rival teachers to that of the serpent. The word for “subtilty” is not that used in the LXX. of Genesis 3:1. Literally, it expresses the mischievous activity of a man who is capable de tout—ready, as we say, for anything.

Corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.—The Greek for “corrupt” has the same special sense as in 2Corinthians 7:2, as implying something which is incompatible with the idea of purity. The Apostle seeks, as it were, for a chastity of mind as well as of body. Many of the better MSS. give, from the simplicity (i.e., singleness of affection) and chastity; and some, chastity and simplicity.

2 Corinthians


2 Corinthians 11:3The Revised Version, amongst other alterations, reads, ‘the simplicity that is _towards_ Christ.’

The inaccurate rendering of the Authorised Version is responsible for a mistake in the meaning of these words, which has done much harm. They have been supposed to describe a quality or characteristic belonging to Christ or the Gospel; and, so construed, they have sometimes been made the watchword of narrowness and of intellectual indolence. ‘Give us the simple Gospel’ has been the cry of people who have thought themselves to be evangelical when they were only lazy, and the consequence has been that preachers have been expected to reiterate commonplaces, which have made both them and their hearers listless, and to sink the educational for the evangelistic aspect of the Christian teacher’s function.

It is quite true that the Gospel is simple, but it is also true that it is deep, and they will best appreciate its simplicity who have most honestly endeavoured to fathom its depth. When we let our little sounding lines out, and find that they do not reach the bottom, we begin to wonder even more at the transparency of the clear abyss. It is not simplicity _in_ Christ, but _towards_ Christ of which the Apostle is speaking; not a quality in Him, but a quality in _us_ towards Him. I wish, then, to turn to the two thoughts that these words suggest. First and chiefly, the attitude towards Christ which befits our relation to Him; and, secondly and briefly, the solicitude for its maintenance.

I. First, then, look at the attitude towards Christ which befits the Christian relation to Him.

The word ‘simplicity’ has had a touch of contempt associated with it. It is a somewhat doubtful compliment to say of a man that he is ‘simple-minded.’ All noble words which describe great qualities get oxidised by exposure to the atmosphere, and rust comes over them, as indeed all good things tend to become deteriorated in time and by use. But the notion of the word is really a very noble and lofty one. To be ‘without a fold,’ which is the meaning of the Greek word and of its equivalent ‘simplicity,’ is, in one aspect, to be transparently honest and true, and in another to be out and out of a piece. There is no underside of the cloth, doubled up beneath the upper which shows, and running in the opposite direction; but all tends in one way. A man with no under-currents, no by-ends, who is down to the very roots what he looks, and all whose being is knit together and hurled in one direction, without reservation or back-drawing, that is the ‘simple’ man whom the Apostle means. Such simplicity is the truest wisdom; such simplicity of devotion to Jesus Christ is the only attitude of heart and mind which corresponds to the facts of our relation to Him. That relation is set forth in the context by a very sweet and tender image, in the true line of scriptural teaching, which in many a place speaks of the Bride and Bridegroom, and which on its last page shows us the Lamb’s wife descending from Heaven to meet her husband. The state of devout souls and of the community of such here on earth is that of betrothal. Their state in heaven is that of marriage. Very beautiful it is to see how this fiery Paul, like the ascetic John, who never knew the sacred joys of that state, lays hold of the thought of the Bridegroom and the Bride, and of his individual relation to both as indicating the duties of the Church and the solicitude of the Apostle. He says that he has been the intermediary who, according to Oriental custom, arranged the preliminaries of the marriage, and brought the bride to the bridegroom, and, as the friend of the latter, standing by rejoices greatly to hear the bridegroom’s voice, and is solicitous mainly that in the tremulous heart of the betrothed there should be no admixture of other loves, but a whole-hearted devotion, an exclusive affection, and an absolute obedience. ‘I have espoused you,’ says he, ‘to one husband that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. But I fear lest . . . your mind should be corrupted from the simplicity that is towards Him.’

Now that metaphor carries in its implication all that anybody can say about the exclusiveness, the depth, the purity, the all-pervasiveness of the dependent love which should knit us to Jesus Christ. The same thought of whole-hearted, single, absolute devotion is conveyed by other Scripture metaphors, the _slave_ and the _soldier_ of Christ. But all that is repellent or harsh in these is softened and glorified when we contemplate it in the light of the metaphor of my text.

So I might leave it to do its own work, but I may perhaps be allowed to follow out the thought in one or two directions.

The attitude, then, which corresponds to our relation to Jesus Christ is that, first, of a faith which looks to Him exclusively as the source of salvation and of light. The specific danger which was alarming Paul, in reference to that little community of Christians in Corinth, was one which, in its particular form, is long since dead and buried. But the principles which underlay it, the tendencies to which it appealed, and the perils which alarmed Paul for the Corinthian Church, are perennial. He feared that these Judaising teachers, who dogged his heels all his life long, and whose one aim seemed to be to build upon his foundation and to overthrow his building, should find their way into this church and wreck it. The keenness of the polemic, in this and in the contextual chapters, shows how real and imminent the danger was. Now what they did was to tell people that Jesus Christ had a partner in His saving work. They said that obedience to the Jewish law, ceremonial and other, was a condition of salvation, along with trust in Jesus Christ as the Messiah. And because they thus shared out the work of salvation between Jesus Christ and something else, Paul thundered and lightened at them all his life, and, as he tells us in this context, regarded them as preaching another Jesus, another spirit, and another gospel. That particular error is long dead and buried.

But is there nothing else that has come into its place? Has this old foe not got a new face, and does not it live amongst us as really as it lived then? I think it does; whether in the form of the grosser kind of sacramentarianism and ecclesiasticism which sticks sacraments and a church in front of the Cross, or in the form of the definite denial that Jesus Christ’s death on the Cross is the one means of salvation, or simply in the form of the coarse, common wish to have a finger in the pie and a share in the work of saving oneself, as a drowning man will sometimes half drown his rescuer by trying to use his own limbs. These tendencies that Paul fought, and which he feared would corrupt the Corinthians from their simple and exclusive reliance on Christ, and Christ alone, as the ground and author of their salvation, are perennial in human nature, and we have to be on our guard for ever and for ever against them. Whether they come in organised, systematic, doctrinal form, or whether they are simply the rising in our own hearts of the old Adam of pride and self-trust, they equally destroy the whole work of Christ, because they infringe upon its solitariness and uniqueness. It is not Christ and anything else. Men are not saved by a syndicate. It is Jesus Christ alone, and ‘beside Him there is no Saviour.’ You go into a Turkish mosque and see the roof held up by a forest of slim pillars. You go into a cathedral chapter-house and see one strong support in the centre that bears the whole roof. The one is an emblem of the Christless multiplicity of vain supports, the other of the solitary strength and eternal sufficiency of the one Pillar on which the whole weight of a world’s salvation rests, and which lightly bears it triumphantly aloft. ‘I fear lest your minds be corrupted from the simplicity’ of a reasonable faith directed towards Christ.

And in like manner He is the sole light and teacher of men as to God, themselves, their duty, their destinies and prospects. He, and He alone, brings these things to light. His word, whether it comes from His lips or from the deeds which are part of His revelation, or from the voice of the Spirit which takes of His and speaks to the ages through His apostles, should be ‘the end of all strife.’ What He says, and all that He says, and nothing else than what He says, is the creed of the Christian. He, and He only, is ‘the light which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.’ In this day of babblements and confusions, let us listen for the voice of Christ and accept all which comes from Him, and let the language of our deepest hearts be, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou only hast the words of eternal life.’

Again, our relation to Jesus Christ demands exclusive love to Him. ‘Demands’ is an ugly word to bracket with love. We might say, and perhaps more truly, permits or privileges. It is the joy of the betrothed that her duty is to love, and to keep her heart clear from all competing affections. But it is none the less her duty because it is her joy. What Christ is to you, if you are a Christian, and what He longs to be to us all, whether we are Christians or not, is of such a character as that the only fitting attitude of our hearts to Him in response is that of exclusive affection. I do not mean that we are to love nothing but Him, but I mean that we are to love all things else in Him, and that, if any creature so delays or deflects our love as that either it does not pass, by means of the creature, into the presence of the Christ, or is turned away from the Christ by the creature, then we have fallen beneath the sweet level of our lofty privilege, and have won for ourselves the misery due to distracted and idolatrous hearts. Love to one who has done what He has done for us is in its very nature exclusive, and its exclusiveness is all-pervasive exclusiveness. The centre diamond makes the little stones set round it all the more lustrous. We must love Jesus Christ all in all or not at all. Divided love incurs the condemnation that falls heavily upon the head of the faithless bride.

Dear friends, the conception of the essence of religion as being love is no relaxation, but an increase, of its stringent requirements. The more we think of that sweet bond as being the true union of the soul with God, who is its only rest and home, the more reasonable and imperative will appear the old commandment, ‘Thou shalt love Him with all thy heart, and soul, and strength, and mind.’

But, further, our relation to Jesus Christ is such as that nothing short of absolute obedience to His commandment corresponds to it. There must be the simplicity, the single-mindedness that thus obeys, obeys swiftly, cheerfully, constantly. In all matters His command is my law, and, as surely as I make His command my law, will He make my desire His motive. For He Himself has said, in words that bring together our obedience to His will and His compliance with our wishes, in a fashion that we should not have ventured upon unless He had set us an example, ‘If ye love Me, keep My commandments. If ye ask anything in My name I will do it.’ The exclusive love that binds us, by reason of our faith in Him alone, to that Lord ought to express itself in unhesitating, unfaltering, unreserved, and unreluctant obedience to every word that comes from His mouth.

These brief outlines are but the poorest attempt to draw out what the words of my text imply. But such as they are, let us remember that they do set forth the only proper response of the saved man to the saving Christ. ‘Ye cannot serve God and Mammon.’ Anything short of a faith that rests on Him alone, of a love that knits itself to His single, all-sufficient heart, and of an obedience that bows the whole being to the sweet yoke of His commandment is an unworthy answer to the Love that died, and that lives for us all.

II. And now I have only time to glance at the solicitude for the maintenance of this exclusive single-mindedness towards Christ.

Think of what threatens it. I say nothing about the ferment of opinion in this day, for one man that is swept away from a thorough whole-hearted faith by intellectual considerations, there are a dozen from whom it is filched without their knowing it, by their own weaknesses and the world’s noises. And so it is more profitable that we should think of the whole crowd of external duties, enjoyments, sweetnesses, bitternesses, that solicit us, and would seek to draw us away. Who can hear the low voice that speaks peace and wisdom when Niagara is roaring past his ears? ‘The world is too much with us, late and soon. Buying and selling we lay waste our powers,’ and break ourselves away from our simple devotion to that dear Lord. But it is possible that we may so carry into all the whirl the central peace, as that we shall not be disturbed by it; and possible that ‘whether we eat or drink, or whatsoever we do, we may do all to His glory,’ so that we can, even in the midst of our daily pressing avocations and cares be keeping our hearts in the heavens, and our souls in touch with our Lord.

But it is not only things without that draw us away. Our own weaknesses and waywardnesses, our strong senses, our passions, our desires, our necessities, all these have a counteracting force, which needs continual watchfulness in order to be neutralised. No man can grasp a stay, which alone keeps him from being immersed in the waves, with uniform tenacity, unless every now and then he tightens his muscles. And no man can keep himself firmly grasping Jesus Christ without conscious effort directed to bettering his hold.

If there be dangers around us, and dangers within us, the discipline which we have to pursue in order to secure this uniform, single-hearted devotion is plain enough. Let us be vividly conscious of the peril--which is what some of us are not. Let us take stock of ourselves lest creeping evil may be encroaching upon us, while we are all unaware--which is what some of us never do. Let us clearly contemplate the possibility of an indefinite increase in the closeness and thoroughness of our surrender to Him--a conviction which has faded away from the minds of many professing Christians. Above all, let us find time or make time for the patient, habitual contemplation of the great facts which kindle our devotion. For if you never think of Jesus Christ and His love to you, how can you love Him back again? And if you are so busy carrying out your own secular affairs, or pursuing your own ambitions, or attending to your own duties, as they may seem to be, that you have no time to think of Christ, His death, His life, His Spirit, His yearning heart over His bride, how can it be expected that you will have any depth of love to Him? Let us, too, wait with prayerful patience for that Divine Spirit who will knit us more closely to our Lord.

Unless we do so, we shall get no happiness out of our religion, and it will bring no praise to Christ or profit to ourselves. I do not know a more miserable man than a half-and-half Christian, after the pattern of, I was going to say, the ordinary average of professing Christians of this generation. He has religion enough to prick and sting him, and not enough to impel him to forsake the evil which yet he cannot comfortably do. He has religion enough to ‘inflame his conscience,’ not enough to subdue his will and heart. How many of my hearers are in that condition it is for them to settle. If we are to be Christian men at all, let us be it out and out. Half-and-half religion is no religion.

‘One foot in sea, and one on shore; To one thing constant never!’

That is the type of thousands of professing Christians. ‘I fear lest by any means your minds be corrupted from the simplicity that is towards Christ.’ 2 Corinthians 11:3. But I fear — Love is full of these fears; lest by any means — By some means or other; as the serpent — A most apposite comparison; deceived Eve — Simple, ignorant of ill; by his subtlety — Which is in the highest degree dangerous to such a disposition; so your minds — (We might therefore be tempted, even if there were no sin in us;) should be corrupted — Losing their virginal purity; from the simplicity that is in Christ — Namely, that simplicity which is lovingly intent on him alone. “That it was the devil who beguiled Eve, our Lord hath intimated, by calling him a murderer from the beginning, and a liar, John 8:44. The same also St. John hath intimated, by giving the name of the old serpent to him who is called the devil and Satan, who deceiveth the whole world, Revelation 12:9; Revelation 20:2. Besides, in the history of the fall, the serpent is said to have been punished, as a rational and accountable agent. Wherefore, what Moses hath written of the fall, is not an apologue, or fable, with a moral meaning, as Middleton and others contend, but a true history of things really done, in which the devil was the chief actor.” — Macknight. See note on Genesis 3:1-15.11:1-4 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.But I fear - Paul had just compared the church to a virgin, soon to be presented as a bride to the Redeemer. The mention of this seems to have suggested to him the fact that the first woman was deceived and led astray by the tempter, and that the same thing might occur in regard to the church which he was so desirous should be preserved pure. The grounds of his fear were:

(1) That Satan had seduced the first woman, thus demonstrating that the most holy ones were in danger of being led astray by temptation; and,

(2) That special efforts were made to seduce them from the faith. The persuasive arts of the false teachers; the power of philosophy; and the attractive and corrupting influences of the world, he had reason to suppose might be employed to seduce them from simple attachment to Christ.

Lest by any means - Lest somehow (μήπως mēpōs). It is implied that many means would be used; that all arts would be tried; and that in some way, which perhaps they little suspected, these arts would be successful, unless they were constantly put upon their guard.

As the serpent beguiled Eve - see Genesis 3:1-11. The word "serpent" here refers doubtless to Satan, who was the agent by whom Eve was beguiled see John 8:44; 1 John 3:8; Revelation 12:9; Revelation 20:2. Paul did not mean that they were in danger of being corrupted in the same way, but that similar efforts would be made to seduce them. Satan adapts his temptations to the character and circumstances of the tempted. He varies them from age to age, and applies them in such a way as best to secure his object. Hence, all should be on their guard. No one knows the mode in which he will approach him, but all may know that he will approach them in some way.

Through his subtilty - see Genesis 3:1. By his craft, art, wiles (ἐν τῇ πανουργίᾳ en tē panourgia). The word implies that shrewdness, cunning, craft was employed. A tempter always employs cunning and art to accomplish his object. The precise mode in which Satan accomplished his object is not certainly known. Perhaps the cunning consisted in assuming an attractive form - a fascinating manner - a manner suited to charm; perhaps in the idea that the eating of the forbidden fruit had endowed a serpent with the power of reason and speech above all other animals, and that it might be expected to produce a similar transformation in Eve. At all events there were false pretences and appearances, and such Paul apprehended would be employed by the false teachers to seduce and allure them; see on 2 Corinthians 11:13-14.

So your minds should be corrupted - So your thoughts should be perverted. So your hearts should be alienated. The mind is corrupted when the affections are alienated from the proper object, and when the soul is filled with unholy plans, and purposes, and desires.

From the simplicity that is in Christ -

(1) From simple and single-hearted devotedness to him - from pure and unmixed attachment to him. The fear was that their affections would be fixed on other objects, and that the singleness and unity of their devotedness to him would be destroyed.

(2) from his pure doctrines. By the admixture of philosophy; by the opinions of the world there was danger that their minds should be turned away from their hold on the simple truths which Christ had taught.

(3) from that simplicity of mind and heart; that childlike candor and docility; that freedom from all guile, dishonesty, and deception which so eminently characterized the Redeemer. Christ had a single aim; was free from all guile; was purely honest; never made use of any improper arts; never resorted to false appearances; and never deceived. His followers should in like manner be artless and guileless. There should be no mere cunning, no trick, no craft in advancing their purposes. There should be nothing but honesty and truth in all that they say. Paul was afraid that they would lose this beautiful simplicity and artlessness of character and manner; and that they would insensibly be led to adopt the maxims of mere cunning, of policy, of expediency, of seductive arts which prevailed so much in the world - a danger which was imminent among the shrewd and cunning people of Greece; but which is confined to no time and no place. Christians should be more guileless than even children are; as pure and free from trick, and from art and cunning as was the Redeemer himself.

(4) from the simplicity in worship which the Lord Jesus commended and required. The worship which the Redeemer designed to establish was simple, unostentatious, and pure - strongly in contrast with the gorgeousness and corruption of the pagan worship, and even with the imposing splendor of the Jewish temple service. He intended that it should be adapted to all lands, and such as could be offered by all classes of people - a pure worship, claiming first the homage of the heart, and then such simple external expressions as should best exhibit the homage of the heart. How easily might this be corrupted! What temptations were there to attempt to corrupt it by those who had been accustomed to the magnificence of the temple service, and who would suppose that the religion of the Messiah could not be less gorgeous than that which was designed to shadow forth his coming; and by those who had been accustomed to the splendid rites of the pagan worship, and who would suppose that the true religion ought not to be less costly and splendid than the false religion had been. If so much expense had been lavished on false religions, how natural to suppose that equal costliness at least should be bestowed on the true religion. Accordingly the history of the church for a considerable part of its existence has been little more than a record of the various forms in which the simple worship instituted by the Redeemer has been corrupted, until all that was gorgeous in pagan ceremonies and splendid in the Jewish ritual has been introduced as a part of Christian worship.

(5) from simplicity in dress and manner of living. The Redeemer's dress was simple. His manner of living was simple. His requirements demand great simplicity and plainness of apparel and manner of life; 1 Peter 3:3-6; 1 Timothy 2:9-10. Yet how much proneness is there at all times to depart from this! What a besetting sin has it been in all ages to the church of Christ! And how much pains should there be that the very simplicity that is in Christ should be observed by all who bear the Christian name!

3. I fear—(2Co 12:20); not inconsistent with love. His source of fear was their yielding character.

subtilty—the utter foe of the "simplicity" which is intent on ONE object, Jesus, and seeks none "other," and no "other" and different Spirit (2Co 11:4); but loves him with tender SINGLENESS OF AFFECTION. Where Eve first gave way, was in mentally harboring for a moment the possibility insinuated by the serpent, of God not having her truest interests at heart, and of this "other" professing friend being more concerned for her than God.

corrupted—so as to lose their virgin purity through seducers (2Co 11:4). The same Greek stands for "minds" as for "thoughts" (2Co 10:5, also see on [2320]2Co 10:5); intents of the will, or mind. The oldest manuscripts after "simplicity," add, "and the purity" or "chastity."

in Christ—rather, "that is towards Christ."

In all jealousy there is a mixture of love and fear: the apostle’s love to this church, together with his earnest desire to present them in the day of judgment unto Christ pure and uncorrupted, caused him to write; because he was afraid, lest that as the serpent by his subtlety deceived Eve, so some subtle seducers should corrupt them, and so withdraw them from the simplicity of their faith in Christ, and obedience to him. This danger was partly from the pagan philosophers, mixing their philosophical notions with the plain doctrine of the gospel; and partly from some that were tenacious of the Judaical rites, and would not understand the abolition of the ceremonial law. But I fear lest by any means,.... Jealousy is always attended with fear, care, and solicitude, whether in things natural or spiritual. The apostle, as things were in this church, could not but express his fears, lest

as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety; that is, the old serpent the devil, who made use of a serpent, the most subtle creature of all the beasts of the field, and seduced Eve from her obedience to God, to transgress his command, by eating the forbidden fruit. The apostle here speaks the language and sense of the Jews, who say (p), that, "Satan and the serpent have one name", i.e. are the same; and that it was the old serpent (the devil), , "that beguiled Eve" (q), and who is said to be corrupted by him;

"the serpent (they say (r)) was corrupted first, after that, , "Eve was corrupted", and after that Adam was corrupted.''

So the apostle was jealous and fearful, knowing that the false apostles were ministers of Satan, artful and cunning men, lest, through their craftiness and sophistry,

your minds, says he,

should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ; that is, lest their judgments should be misled, their minds be vitiated with corrupt principles, and be carried away in any degree with the error of the wicked, from off the pure and simple doctrine of the Gospel, which respects the person and grace of Christ; and chiefly lies in this one plain, easy, and important truth, salvation alone by him. The Vulgate Latin version reads, "your minds should be corrupted, and should fall from the simplicity that is in Christ".

(p) Caphtor, fol. 93. 1.((q) Raya Mehimna in Zohar in Exod. fol. 50. 1.((r) T. Bab. Taanith, fol. 15. 2.

But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be {c} corrupted from the simplicity that is in {d} Christ.

(c) This passage is to be noted against those who hate the plain and pure simplicity of the scriptures, in comparison of the elegance and fluency of man's eloquence.

(d) Which is proper for those who are in Christ.

2 Corinthians 11:3. The point of comparison is the leading astray by the devil, which took place in the case of Eve (through the serpent), and was to be feared in that of the Corinthians (through the false apostles, Satan’s servants, 2 Corinthians 11:15). For Paul presupposes it as well known to his readers, that Satan had led astray Eve by means of the serpent. To him and to them the serpent was by no means either a symbol or a mystical figure of the cosmical principle (Martensen). Comp. Wis 2:23 f.; 4Ma 18:8; 1 John 3:8; Revelation 12:9; Revelation 12:14 f., Revelation 20:2; and see on John 8:44, and Grimm on Wisd. l.c. For the monstrous inventions of the later Rabbins, see Eisenmenger, Entdecktes Judenth. I. p. 830 ff.

Paul’s mention (comp. 1 Timothy 2:15) of Eve (not Adam) is alike in keeping with the narrative (Genesis 3) and with the comparison, since the church is represented as feminine (comp. Ignat. Eph. interpol. 17). In Romans 5:12 and 1 Corinthians 15:22, the connection demanded the mention of Adam.

ὁ ὄφις] the well-known serpen.

ἐν τῇ πανουργ. αὐτοῦ] instrumental. Comp. Ephesians 4:14; Aq. Genesis 3:1 : ὁ ὄφις ἦν πανοῦργος, Ignat. Phil. 11 interpol.: ὁ σκολιὸς ὄφις κ.τ.λ.

φθαρῇ] become corrupted, not be corrupt (Ewald). Paul expresses himself with tender forbearance; the corruption of the church by anti-Pauline doctrine (2 Corinthians 11:4) he sees as a danger.

ἀπὸ τῆς ἁπλότ. κ.τ.λ.] a pregnant phrase: lest your thoughts (comp. 2 Corinthians 3:14, 2 Corinthians 4:4, 2 Corinthians 10:5) become corrupted and led away from the simplicity towards Christ (εἰς Χ. is not equivalent to ἐν Χ., as the Vulgate, Beza, Calvin, and others have it). See Fritzsche, Diss. II. p. 63 f.; Buttmann, neut. Gr. p. 277 [E. T. 322]. The ἁπλότης ἡ εἰς Χ. is the quality of simple, honest fidelity in the παρθένος ἁγνή, who shares her heart with no other than with her betrothed.2 Corinthians 11:3. φοβοῦμαι δὲ μή πως κ.τ.λ.: but I fear lest by any means, as “the serpent beguiled” Eve in his craftiness (in Genesis 3:1 the serpent is called φρονιμώτατος, but St. Paul changes the word to indicate the baseness of the serpent’s wisdom. Aristotle uses πανουργία in direct contrast to φρόνησις; cf. Nic. Eth., vi., 12), your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity and the purity (cf. chap. 2 Corinthians 6:6) that is toward Christ. It would appear that the belief of the synagogues was that the serpent literally “seduced” Eve (cf. 4Ma 18:6-8, and Iren., contra Haer., i., 307), and it is probably in reference to this that St. Paul substitutes the stronger word ἐξαπατάω (as he does at 1 Timothy 2:14) for the simple verb ἀπατ. of Genesis 3:13. Carrying on the metaphor of 2 Corinthians 11:2, he expresses his anxiety lest the Corinthian Church, the Bride of Christ, should be seduced by the devil from her singleness of affection (cf. 1Ma 2:37; 1Ma 2:60, and see on 2 Corinthians 8:2 for ἁπλότης) and her purity, and so should be guilty of spiritual fornication. He assumes that “the serpent” is to be identified with Satan, the tempter of mankind, as he does also at Romans 16:20; the earliest trace of this identification, which has become so familiar, is Wis 2:24, cf. Revelation 12:9; Revelation 20:2. He now gives the reason of his anxiety, lest they should fall away; viz., they were showing themselves too willing to listen to strange teachings.3. as the serpent beguiled Eve] The Church, as a second Eve, is espoused to Christ, the new Adam (1 Corinthians 15:45). She must beware lest, like Eve, she listen to the voice of the same tempter, who ever lieth in wait to deceive, and so lose the privileges she was destined to enjoy. See ch. 2 Corinthians 2:11.

through his subtilty] See ch. 2 Corinthians 4:2, and note. A similar sentiment will be found in Colossians 2:4-8. For the serpent, see Genesis 3:1; and cf. Wis 2:23-24; Revelation 12:9; Revelation 12:14-15.

your minds] See note on ch. 2 Corinthians 2:11, where the same word is used as here.

from the simplicity] Rather, singlemindness. See ch, 2 Corinthians 1:12, 2 Corinthians 8:2, 2 Corinthians 9:11; 2 Corinthians 9:13. Most editors here add and the chastity. No doubt the words and the chastity have been left out from the close similarity of the two Greek words in this passage. A word only differing in the Greek from this by one letter has been substituted for the word simplicity by many editors in ch. 2 Corinthians 1:12.

that is in Christ] Literally, ‘that is unto Christ’ (that ye had toward Christ, Cranmer). “This is an expression commonly mistaken. People suppose simplicity means what a child or ploughman can understand. Now if this be simplicity, the simplicity of the Gospel was corrupted by St Paul himself. ‘Simple,’ according to St Paul, means unmixed or unadulterated.” Robertson. See notes on passages cited in last note. The meaning therefore is ‘your single-minded devotion to Christ.’2 Corinthians 11:3. Φοβοῦμαι, I fear) Such fear is not only not contrary to love, but it is a property of love, ch. 2 Corinthians 12:20; 2 Corinthians 12:19. [All jealousy doubtless arises from fear.—V. g.]—δὲ, but) This is opposed to, I have espoused.—ὡς, as) a very apposite comparison.—Εὖαν, Eve) who was simple and unacquainted with evil.—πανουργίᾳ, through subtilty) which is most inimical to simplicity.—οὕτως, so) The saints, even though original sin were entirely quiescent, may be tempted.—φθαρῇ, should be corrupted) Having lost their virgin purity. Seducers threatened the Corinthians; see next verse. An abbreviated mode of expression for, May be corrupted and drawn from their simplicity.—ἀπλότητος, the simplicity) which is intent on one object, and most tender; which seeks not another [Jesus; ἄλλον] nor a different [Spirit: ἕτερον, second and different], 2 Corinthians 11:4.Verse 3. - I fear. Even now he would only contemplate their defection as a future dread, not as a present catastrophe. Lest by any means; lest haply (2 Corinthians 2:7; 2 Corinthians 9:4). As the serpent beguiled Eve. St. Paul merely touches on the central moral fact of the temptation and the Fall (Genesis 3:1-6). He enters into no speculation about the symbols, though, doubtless, like St. John (Revelation 12:9; Revelation 20:2), he would have identified the serpent with Satan (comp. 2 Corinthians 2:11 and Wisd. 2:23). Through his subtlety. The word means "crafty wickedness." It is used in 2 Corinthians 12:16, and is found in 2 Corinthians 4:2; Luke 20:23. Your minds; literally, your thoughts (2 Corinthians 2:11). Should be corrupted (comp. Colossians 2:4-8; 1 Timothy 4:1). The simplicity. The apostles always insisted on this virtue, but especially St. Paul, in whose Epistles the word (ἁπλότης occurs seven times. That is in Christ; rather, that is towards (literally, into) Christ; as Cranmer rendered it, "The perfect fidelity Which looks to him above." The serpent

Paul's only allusion to the story of the serpent in Eden.


In accordance with the representation of the Church as the bride.

Simplicity that is in Christ

Rev. adds, and the purity, following Westcott and Hort's text. Simplicity, single-hearted loyalty. In Christ; better, as Rev., towards (εἰς).

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