2 Corinthians 11:9
And when I was present with you, and wanted, I was chargeable to no man: for that which was lacking to me the brothers which came from Macedonia supplied: and in all things I have kept myself from being burdensome to you, and so will I keep myself.
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(9) I was chargeable to no man.—There is no doubt that this gives substantially the meaning of the Greek word, but the word is a very peculiar one, and has a history which, as throwing light on the sources of St. Paul’s phraseology, and his character as shown in his use of it, is not without interest. The verb (katanarkaô) is not found elsewhere in the New Testament, nor in the LXX. versions of the Old, nor, indeed, in any known Greek author, except Hippocrates. Jerome describes it as belonging to the patois of Cilicia, which, if true, would be interesting; but he gives no proof of it (Ep. ad Aglaia), and the statement must be treated as unproven. The history which we are about to trace, tends, however, to confirm it as a probable conjecture. The root of the verb is found in the noun narkè, which is used (1) for “numbness,” or “torpor” (a sense found in our “narcotic”), and (2) as the name of a fish of the torpedo genus, causing numbness by its contact with the human body (Aristotle, Anim. Hist. vi. 10). The verb derived from the noun is accordingly used by Hippocrates and Galen in the sense of “being benumbed,” or causing numbness. (See Foesius, Lexic. Hippocrat. s.v, ναρκὴ.) As used here, it takes its place as a bold figurative expression. To benumb any one, was to exhaust him, to drain him of his vitality by pressing on him, and, as it were, living upon him. St. Paul accordingly means, in using the word, to say, “I didn’t drain you of your resources—did not live upon you.” An analogous similitude is found in Shakespeare’s lines:—

“That now he was

The ivy which had hid my princely trunk,

And suck’d my verdure out on’t

Tempest, i. 2.

Our modern phrase which speaks of one man as “sponging” on another implies a like metaphor. In the word “parasitic” as applied to plants and animals, we have an inverted transfer of the same idea from the incidents of man’s social life to that of lower organisms. As a word belonging, through Hippocrates, to the recognised terminology of physicians, it takes its place in the vocabulary which St. Paul may be supposed to have derived from St. Luke (see Introduction to St. Luke’s Gospel, Vol. I., p. 239), and which the fame of Tarsus as a medical school may also have made more or less familiar, as Jerome states, in the conversational idioms of Cilicia.

The brethren which came from Macedonia supplied.—Not “which came,” but when they came. The Acts of the Apostles present no record of any such supply, but Philippians 4:15 presents an interesting and confirmatory coincidence. The Philippians had sent supplies to him twice at Thessalonica, and it was a natural sequel to this that they should send to him also at Corinth. The Apostle may well have accepted what they thus sent, and yet have thought his acceptance perfectly compatible with his boast that he was not preaching at Corinth for the sake of gain (1Corinthians 9:16-18). He was not to be robbed of whatever credit attached to his working for his own livelihood at Corinth and elsewhere, by any sneers which had that acceptance for their starting-point.

And so will I keep myself.—It adds to the interest of this declaration to remember that St. Paul had acted on this principle both at Ephesus, which he had just left (Acts 20:34), and in the Macedonian churches which he was now visiting (2Thessalonians 3:8). The future tense obviously points to his resolution to continue to act on the same lines during his promised visit to Corinth.

11:5-15 It is far better to be plain in speech, yet walking openly and consistently with the gospel, than to be admired by thousands, and be lifted up in pride, so as to disgrace the gospel by evil tempers and unholy lives. The apostle would not give room for any to accuse him of worldly designs in preaching the gospel, that others who opposed him at Corinth, might not in this respect gain advantage against him. Hypocrisy may be looked for, especially when we consider the great power which Satan, who rules in the hearts of the children of disobedience, has upon the minds of many. And as there are temptations to evil conduct, so there is equal danger on the other side. It serves Satan's purposes as well, to set up good works against the atonement of Christ, and salvation by faith and grace. But the end will discover those who are deceitful workers; their work will end in ruin. Satan will allow his ministers to preach either the law or the gospel separately; but the law as established by faith in Christ's righteousness and atonement, and the partaking of his Spirit, is the test of every false system.And when I was present with you - When I was laboring in order to build up the church in Corinth.

I was chargeable to no man - I was burdensome to no one; or more liter ally," I did not lie as a dead weight upon you." The word used here, which occurs nowhere else in the New Testament (κατενάρκησα katenarkēsa), means, literally, to become torpid against, that is, to the detriment of anyone; and hence, to be burdensome. According to Jerome, its use here is a Cilicism of Paul. The idea is that he did not lead a torpid, inactive life at the expense of others. He did not expect a support from them when he was doing nothing; nor did he demand support which would in any sense be a burden to them. By his own hands Acts 18:3, and by the aid which he received from abroad, he was supported without deriving aid from the people of Corinth.

And in all things ... - In all respects I have carefully kept myself from being a burden on the church. Paul had no idea of living at other people's expense when he was doing nothing. He did not, as a general thing, mean to receive anything for which he had not rendered a fair equivalent; a just principle for ministers and for all other people; see 2 Corinthians 12:13.

9. wanted—"was in want."

chargeable—Greek, "burdensome," literally, "to torpify," and so to oppress. Jerome says it is a Cilician word (2Co 12:14, 16).

the brethren which came—rather, as Greek, "the brethren when they came." Perhaps Timotheus and Silas (Ac 8:1, 5). Compare Php 4:15, 16, which refers to donations received from the Philippians (who were in Macedonia) at two distinct periods ("once and again"), one at Thessalonica, the other after his departure from Macedonia, that is, when he came into Achaia to Corinth (from the church in which city he would receive no help); and this "in the beginning of the Gospel," that is, at its first preaching in these parts. Thus all three, the two Epistles and history, mutually, and no doubt undesignedly, coincide; a sure test of genuineness.

supplied—Greek, "supplied in addition," namely, in addition to their former contributions; or as Bengel, in addition to the supply obtained by my own manual labor.

The word which we translate chargeable, signifies to benumb; I benumbed no man: or, (as others), I was not myself more benumbed in any thing. If we take it in the first mentioned sense, it lets us see a reason why Paul refused to take wages of the church of Corinth, test he should cool and benumb them as to the receiving of the gospel, when they saw it would prove chargeable to them. If in the latter sense, the apostle seems to reflect upon such whom wages only edged to their work, who preached merely for gain and filthy lucre. To distinguish himself from such hirelings, he tells them, that when he was with them, and laboured amongst them in preaching the gospel, he put them to no charge; yet he was not slothful in his work, but as laborious as those who did take wages. As to himself, he had want enough whilst he was amongst them; but the providence of God ordered him a supply from the churches of Macedonia, and by that means he kept himself from being burdensome to them; and, he tells them, so he was resolved that he would still be. And when I was present with you, and wanted,.... Whilst he was among them, preaching the Gospel to them, he wanted the common necessaries of life: and yet, says he,

I was chargeable to no man, or "benumbed no man"; a metaphor, as some think, taken from the torpedo, or cramp fish; which is of such a cold and benumbing nature, as that, when even at the hook, it will strike the fisherman with its cold, and so benumb him as to take away his feeling, and the use of his limbs: now the apostle's meaning is, that he did not chill and benumb any man's charity, by asking relief from him, for he importuned no man on this account; nor was he benumbed himself, to the detriment of any man; for though he was reduced to great straits, he was not slothful and sluggish in preaching the Gospel, but pursued it with as much diligence and industry as if he had been supported by it in the most handsome manner; nor did he act the part of an idle drone, sit still and starve, but laboured with his own hands, to the relief of himself and others; and whereas it could not be thought he should be able to provide this way thoroughly, both for himself and these that were with him, it was made up by other hands:

for that which was lacking to me; which he could not make up by his own hand labour and industry:

the brethren which came from Macedonia supplied; meaning either Silas and Timotheus, who came to him from Macedonia, whilst he was at Corinth, working at his trade with Aquila and Priscilla, Acts 18:5 who might bring him a supply out of these parts; or else some that belonged to the churches of Macedonia, particularly the Philippians, who frequently communicated to him, and sent him presents by some or other of the brethren, as by Epaphroditus, Philippians 4:15.

And in all things, adds he,

I have kept myself from being burdensome unto you; he worked hard, lived sparingly, and received from others; that as in respect to his maintenance, so in everything else he might live without being a dead weight upon them, or any ways troublesome to them: not that a minister's maintenance is, or ought to be reckoned a burden upon a people; it is but a due debt, and what is their just right; but because it is accounted so by carnal men, and such as are disaffected to the Gospel, and the ministry of it, therefore the apostle uses such language:

and so will I keep myself; time is, for the future; he having taken up a resolution in himself not to be chargeable and troublesome to them, but to provide for himself some other way. This he adds, lest they should think that he had said what lie did to stir them up to a discharge of their duty, in contributing towards his support for time to come.

And when I was present with you, and wanted, I was chargeable to no man: for that which was lacking to me the brethren which came from Macedonia supplied: and in all things I have kept myself from being burdensome unto you, {5} and so will I keep myself.

(5) An amplification: so far is he from being ashamed of this act, that he has also resolved with himself to act in no other way while he is among them, in order that it may always be truly said that he taught in Achaia for nothing. And this is not because he disdains the Corinthians, but rather so that these proud and boastful men may never find the occasion which they have already sought for, and he in the meantime may set something before the Corinthians to follow, so that at length they may truly say that they are like Paul.

2 Corinthians 11:9. τὸ γὰρ ὑστέρημα down to Μακεδονίας is not, with Griesbach, Lachmann, and others, to be made parenthetical,[326] since ΚΑῚ ἘΝ ΠΑΝΤῚ Κ.Τ.Λ. is structurally and logically (as consequence) connected with it: for what was wanting to me the brethren (known to you) supplied, after they had come from Macedonia, and, et.

προσανεπλήρωσαν] addendo suppleverunt (comp. 2 Corinthians 9:12). But we are not, with Grotius (who in 2 Corinthians 11:8 and here thinks of the means for supporting the poor) and Bengel, to seek the reference of πρός in the addition to the earnings of his labour, for of this the whole context contains nothing; but the brethren added the support brought by them to the apostle’s still very small provision, and so supplemented his ὑστέρημα. This aid is later than that mentioned in Php 4:15 (see in loc.). the names of the brethren (were they Silas and Timothy? Acts 18:5) are unknown to u.

καὶ ἐν παντὶ κ.τ.λ.] and in every point (comp. 2 Corinthians 11:6) I have kept and will keep myself non-burdensome to you; I have occasioned you no burden in mine own person, and will occasion you none in the future (“tantum abest, ut poeniteat,” Bengel).

ἀβαρής only here in the N. T., but see Arist. de coel. 4; Chrysipp. in Plut. Mor. p. 1053 E; Luc. D. M. x. 5.

[326] So also Ewald, who takes ver. 8 and ver. 9 still as a continuation of the question in ver. 7.2 Corinthians 11:9. τὸ γὰρ ὑστέρημά μου κ.τ.λ. for the brethren, when they came from Macedonia (very likely Silas and Timothy; see Acts 18:5, Php 4:15), supplied the measure of my want; and in everything I kept myself (note the aorists as pointing to the definite period of his residence in Corinth) from being burdensome unto you (cf. 2 Corinthians 12:16, 1 Thessalonians 2:6), and so will I keep myself.9. and wanted] Rather, was in want. The same word is used in 2 Corinthians 11:5. See note on 1 Corinthians 1:6.

I was chargeable to no man] Greuous, Tyndale. Our translation is Cranmer’s (though Wiclif’s is almost identical, ‘chargeous’). The Geneva version is nearer to the original, I was not slothful to the hinderance of any man. The original word is remarkable. It signifies originally to benumb thoroughly, and our word narcotic comes from this root, as also narcissus from the narcotic qualities of the plant. The torpedo, from its benumbing properties, had in Greek the name of νἀρκη, from whence some have translated it, ‘I attached myself to no man like the torpedo attaches itself.’ But as it is doubtful whether the fish gave the name to the sensation or the sensation to the fish, it will be sufficient to render by I disabled, or paralysed, no man, by throwing my maintenance on him.

from Macedonia] See note on last verse. “The principal fact set forth in this passage, the arrival at Corinth of brethren from Macedonia during St Paul’s residence in that city, is explicitly recorded, Acts 18:1; Acts 18:5.” Paley. See also Php 4:15.

and so will I keep myself] Cf. 1 Corinthians 9:18.2 Corinthians 11:9. Προσανεπλήρωσαν, [further] supplied in addition) A double compound. Paul supplied something by his own manual labour.—καὶ τηρήσω, and I will keep) so far is he from repenting.—See 2 Corinthians 12:14.Verse 9. - And wanted. The aorist shows that this sad condition of extreme poverty was a crisis rather than chronic. Yet even at that supreme moment of trial, when from illness or accident the scanty income of his trade failed him, he would not tell them that he was starving, but rather accepted help from the Philippians, who, as he knew, felt for him an unfeigned affection. It is needless to point out once more how strong is the argument in favour of the genuineness of the Acts and the Epistles from the numberless undesigned coincidences between them in such passages as those to which I have referred in the foregoing notes. I was chargeable to no man; literally, I did not benumb you. The word katenarkesa, which occurs only here and in 2 Corinthians 12:13, 14, is ranked by St. Jerome among St. Paul's cilicisms, i.e. the provincial expressions which he picked up during his long residence at Tarsus. Narke (whence our narcissus and narcotie) means "paralysis," and is also the name given to the gymnotus, or electric eel - in Latin, torpedo, the cramp-fish - which benumbs with the shock of its touch. "I did not," he indignantly says, "cramp you with my torpedo touch." Perhaps in a less vehement mood he would have chosen a less picturesque or technical and medical term. That which was lacking to me the brethren which came from Macedonia supplied; rather, for the brethren, on their arrival from Macedonia; filled up my deficiency. This must have been the third present which St. Paul received from Philippi (Philippians 4:15, 16). These brethren from Macedonia accompanied Silas and Timotheus (Acts 18:5). And so will I keep myself (2 Corinthians 12:14). I was chargeable (κατενάρκησα)

Only in this epistle. From νάρκη numbness, deadness; also a torpedo or gymnotus, which benumbs whatever touches it. Compare Homer: "His hand grew stiff at the wrist" ("Iliad," viii., 328). Meno says to Socrates: "You seem to me both in your appearance and in your power over others, to be very like the flat torpedo-fish (νάρκῃ), who torpifies (ναρκᾶν ποιεῖ) those who come near him with the touch, as you have now torpified (ναρκᾶν) me, I think" (Plato, "Meno," 80). The compound verb used here occurs in Hippocrates in the sense of growing quite stiff. The simple verb occurs in the Sept., Genesis 32:25, Genesis 32:32, of Jacob's thigh, which was put out of joint and shrank. Compare Job 33:19. According to the etymology of the word, Paul would say that he did not benumb the Corinthians by his demand for pecuniary aid. Rev., rather mildly, I was not a burden.

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