2 Corinthians 12:12
Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, in signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds.
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(12) Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you.—The passage is remarkable for using the word “signs,” first, in the general sense, as “notes” or “tokens,” and then more specifically for works of supernatural power. On the special meaning of the three words, “signs,” “wonders,” “power,” see Note on Acts 2:22. The passage is noticeable as being one of those in which St. Paul distinctly claims a supernatural power for himself, and appeals to its exercise. (Comp. Romans 15:19—written, it will be remembered, shortly after this—and 1Corinthians 2:4.)

In all patience.—Better, in endurance of every kind, as referring to the hardships and privations specified in 2Corinthians 11:23-28, in the midst of which the work had to be carried on.

2 Corinthians 12:12-13. Truly the signs of an apostle — The signs whereby a person was known to be an apostle, were his performing great and evident miracles openly in the view of the world, especially his healing diseases, his casting out devils, and his speaking foreign languages. But the greatest of all the signs was his conveying spiritual gifts to them who believed; a power which none possessed but the apostles. All these signs St. Paul having exhibited at Corinth, and in particular having communicated the spiritual gifts to many of the Corinthians, he, on account thereof, called them, in his former letter, the seal of his apostleship, 1 Corinthians 9:2. In all patience — Under my various sufferings, and in the midst of the unreasonable opposition I have met with. By mentioning his patience, the apostle brought to the remembrance of the Corinthians the hardships which he had endured while he executed his office among them, and supported himself by his own labour; as also the persecutions which he had suffered before he first visited them, namely, in the Lesser Asia and in Macedonia, of which they had undoubtedly received information from himself or others. Perhaps likewise, as Locke supposes, there is here an oblique reproof to the false teachers, for the luxury and ease with which they were living among the Corinthians. In signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds — The effects of divine and supernatural power. See on Romans 15:19. “The appeal which the apostle here, and 1 Corinthians 4:7, made to the whole church of the Corinthians, (in which there was a great faction which called his apostleship in question,) concerning the miracles which he had wrought in their presence, and the spiritual gifts which he had conferred on many of them, is a strong proof of the reality of these miracles and gifts.” — Macknight. For what is it — What is the spiritual gift or privilege; wherein ye were inferior to other churches — Planted by the other apostles? Except that I was not burdensome to you — In respect of maintenance, as the other apostles have been to the churches which they planted. Forgive me this wrong — As if he had said, If it be a wrong, I know you will easily pardon it.

12:11-21 We owe it to good men, to stand up in the defence of their reputation; and we are under special obligations to those from whom we have received benefit, especially spiritual benefit, to own them as instruments in God's hand of good to us. Here is an account of the apostle's behaviour and kind intentions; in which see the character of a faithful minister of the gospel. This was his great aim and design, to do good. Here are noticed several sins commonly found among professors of religion. Falls and misdeeds are humbling to a minister; and God sometimes takes this way to humble those who might be tempted to be lifted up. These vast verses show to what excesses the false teachers had drawn aside their deluded followers. How grievous it is that such evils should be found among professors of the gospel! Yet thus it is, and has been too often, and it was so even in the days of the apostles.Truly the signs of an apostle - Such miracles as the acknowledged apostles worked. Such "signs" or evidences that they were divinely commissioned; see the Mark 16:17 note; Acts 2:22 note; Romans 15:19 note.

Were wrought among you - That is, by me; see the note, 1 Corinthians 9:2.

In all patience - I performed those works notwithstanding the opposition which I met with. I patiently persevered in furnishing the evidence of my divine commission. There was a succession of miracles demonstrating that I was from God, notwithstanding the unreasonable opposition which I met with, until I convinced you that I was called to the office of an apostle.

In signs and wonders - In working miracles; compare note, Acts 2:22. What these miracles at Corinth were, we are not distinctly informed. They probably, however, were similar to those performed in other places, in healing the sick, etc.; the most benevolent as it was one of the most decisive proofs of the divine power.

12. Truly, &c.—There is understood some such clause as this, "And yet I have not been commended by you."

in all patience, in signs, &c.—The oldest manuscripts omit "in." "Patience" is not one of the "signs," but the element IN which they were wrought: endurance of opposition which did not cause me to leave off working [Alford]. Translate, "In … patience, BY signs," &c. His mode of expression is modest, putting himself, the worker, in the background, "were wrought," not "I wrought." As the signs have not been transmitted to us, neither has the apostleship. The apostles have no literal successors (compare Ac 1:21, 22).

mighty deeds—palpable works of divine omnipotence. The silence of the apostles in fourteen Epistles, as to miracles, arises from the design of those Epistles being hortatory, not controversial. The passing allusions to miracles in seven Epistles prove that the writers were not enthusiasts to whom miracles seem the most important thing. Doctrines were with them the important matter, save when convincing adversaries. In the seven Epistles the mention of miracles is not obtrusive, but marked by a calm air of assurance, as of facts acknowledged on all hands, and therefore unnecessary to dwell on. This is a much stronger proof of their reality than if they were formally and obtrusively asserted. Signs and wonders is the regular formula of the Old Testament, which New Testament readers would necessarily understand of supernatural works. Again, in the Gospels the miracles are so inseparably and congruously tied up with the history, that you cannot deny the former without denying the latter also. And then you have a greater difficulty than ever, namely, to account for the rise of Christianity; so that the infidel has something infinitely more difficult to believe than that which he rejects, and which the Christian more rationally accepts.

I had not only a call to my apostleship, (of which indeed you were no witnesses), but I amongst you evidenced my call by such signs, as were sufficient to declare me to you to be a true apostle. Amongst these, he reckons:

1. Patience;

2. Mircles. The first refers to those many labours which he had, in travelling to propagate the gospel, in preaching, writing, &c.; this manifested him called of God to the work.

2. Miraculous operations were another sign; for though the working of miracles was not restrained to the apostolical office, yet when they were wrought in confirmation of the doctrine which the apostle had first preached, and so were a seal of his ministry, they were truly signs of his apostleship; it being no way probable, that the God of truth would have communicated his power to men for the confirmation of lies, or of an employment to which he had never called them.

Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you,.... Not only the doctrine which he preached, the power that attended it, and the success it met with among them, were clear signs and evident proofs of his being sent by Christ; not only they themselves, who were converted under his ministry, were testimonials and seals of his apostleship, but also the many other wonderful works done by him confirmed the same, and showed him to be an apostle, and that he was not a whit behind, but equal to the chiefest of them: nor does he refer them to signs that were wrought by him, among others, and in other places, which were many; but to those which they themselves were witnesses of, and therefore might and ought to have spoken of them in defence of him; and in order to stop the mouths of the false apostles, a particular enumeration of these signs follows:

in all patience; it is one sign, and what is here mentioned in the first place of an apostle and minister of Christ, that he patiently bears all injuries and indignities, reproaches, persecutions, and all manner of afflictions, for Christ's sake and the Gospel's; and this the apostle did; and had he not been sent by Christ, it is not reasonable to imagine that he would have exposed himself to so many evils and dangers; or would have bore with so much patience the ill usage of men, and particularly the unkindness and ingratitude he met with at Corinth; but he took all patiently, having their good and the glory of Christ at heart:

in signs and wonders, and mighty deeds; meaning preternatural and miraculous performances; such as raising the dead, healing the sick, cleansing lepers, casting out devils, speaking with divers tongues, and the like, which were confirming evidences of apostleship; so , "wonders and powers", or "mighty deeds", are mentioned together by the Jews (i), as the same things.

(i) Zohar in Exod. fol. 96. 2. & 97. 1.

Truly the {l} signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, in signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds.

(l) The arguments by which it may well appear that I am indeed an apostle of Jesus Christ.

2 Corinthians 12:12. Proof of the previous οὐδὲν ὑστέρησα τῶν ὑπερλ. ἀποστ: The signs, indeed (yet without producing among you the due recognition), of the apostle were wrought among gou. The μέν solitarium leaves it to the reader to supply for himself the corresponding contrast, so that it may be translated by our truly indeed. See especially, Baeumlein, Partik. p. 163; Maetzner, ad Antiph. p. 153; Kühner, ad Xen. Anab. i. 2. 1. The contrast to be supplied here is put beyond doubt by the idea of the σημεῖα which is placed emphatically and significantly at the head; hence we must reject what Billroth (followed by Olshausen) supplies; but even otherwise you can make no complaint about anything.

τὰ σημεῖα τοῦ ἀποστ. is that which divinely evinces the apostle to be such, that by which one discerns the apostle. Ὁ ἀπόστολος with the article does not denote the ideal of an apostle (Billroth), which would be at variance with his humility, but the apostle in abstracto. Bengel says aptly: “ejus, qui sit apostolus.”

κατειργάσθη ἐν ὑμῖν] namely, which I was with you. The I, however, retreats modestly behind the passive expression. The compoundperficere notat maxime rem arduam factuque difficilem,” Fritzsche, ad Rom. I. p. 107.

ἐν πάσῃ ὑπομονῇ] the manner of the κατειργάσθη ἐν ὑμῖν, strengthening the force of the proof: in all manner of perseverance, so that amidst adverse and painful circumstances there was perseverance with all possible stedfastness in fully exhibiting these signs of an apostle. The view followed by many older expositors since Chrysostom: “primum signum nominat patientiam,” is erroneous, since the ὑπομονή is not a specifically apostolic σημεῖον.[379]

σημείοις κ. τέρασι καὶ δυνάμεσι] whereby those signs of an apostle were accomplished, so that σημείοις is here meant in a narrower sense (miraculous signs) than the previous τὰ σημεῖα. The three words in emphatic accumulation denote the same thing under the two different relations of its miraculous significance (σημ. κ. τέρ.) and of its nature (δύν. deeds of power, 1 Corinthians 12:10). Comp. 2 Thessalonians 2:9; Hebrews 2:4; Acts 2:22. The notions of σημεῖα and τέρατα are equivalent. See on Romans 15:19.

Paul therefore wrought miracles also in Corinth, and wrought them as legitimations of his apostleship (Hebrews 2:4). Comp. Romans 15:19; Acts 15:12.

On the accumulation of terms, comp. Cic. Tusc. ii. 40 26: “His ego pluribus nominibus unam rem declarari volo, sed utor, ut quam maxime significem, pluribus.” Comp. also Cic. de Fin. iii. 4. 14; Nat. D ii. 7. 18.

How at variance with our passage is the historical criticism, which lays down à priori the negation of miracles!

[379] An appeal should not have been made to 2 Corinthians 6:4, where in fact there stands the wider conception θεοῦ διάκονοι.

2 Corinthians 12:12. τὰ μὲν σημεῖα κ.τ.λ.: truly (there is no antithesis to μέν) the signs of an Apostle (τοῦ is generic, “such as might be expected from an Apostle”; cf. Mark 16:20) were wrought (note the passive; he does not claim to be anything more than God’s instrument; οὐδέν ἐστι) among you in all patience, sc., on my part (ὑπομονή is an essential quality for a Christian missionary; see on 2 Corinthians 1:6), in signs and wonders and powers. This direct assertion, made as if it were indisputable, that miracles had been wrought at Corinth through his agency (see also Romans 15:19, 1 Corinthians 2:4) is noteworthy. The three words used should be distinguished. τέρας is something anomalous, outside the ordinary course of nature. This, however, is not the prominent idea in the N.T. miracles; τέρας is never used in the N.T. (save in the quotation Acts 2:19) except in combination with σημεῖον = a “sign” of the Divine purpose. σημεῖα καὶ τέρατα is the regular phrase both in O.T. (Exodus 7:3, etc.) and in the N.T. for “miracles”; but it is their signal rather than their wonderful character upon which stress is laid. To describe them as δυνάμεις (Matthew 7:22, Acts 19:11, 1 Corinthians 12:10; 1 Corinthians 12:28) directs attention to the Omnipotent Being to whom they are due.

12. Truly the signs of an apostle] Rather, of the Apostle, i.e. of him who is an Apostle. These are of two kinds, (1) inward, consisting in endurance for the Gospel’s sake, and (2) outward, in credentials of his mission given from on high.

signs, and wonders] These words are continually conjoined in Scripture not only by St Paul and St Luke, but by the other three Evangelists. The first refers to miraculous works, considered as signs of a Divine power dwelling in the worker; the second is perhaps equivalent to our word portents.

and mighty deeds] Literally, powers, referring to the inner power which worked them. Dean Stanley remarks on the claim to miraculous powers here made by St Paul. Cf. Acts 13:11; Acts 14:10; Acts 16:18; Acts 19:11-12.

2 Corinthians 12:12. Μὲν, indeed [truly]) This particle is as it were a crumb that feeds modesty.—σημεῖα, signs) The proofs of the facts are at hand.—τοῦ ἀποστόλου, of the apostle) The article has this force; [the signs] of one who is an apostle.—σημείοις) So Al. Lat. (in Cod. Reutl.) Hilariu[84]. A reading standing midway between the extremes:[85] whence most copies have ἘΝ ΣΗΜΕΊΟΙς; ΚΑῚ ΣΗΜΕΊΟΙς is the reading of Chrys. Boern. Lat. in the MSS.: σημείοις τε is the reading of Lin. also Syr.[86] On ΣΗΜΕΊΟΙς and ΤΈΡΑΣΙ, see Matthew 24:24. ΔΥΝΆΜΕΙς are most palpable works of divine omnipotence.

[84] ilarius (a Latin father: died 368 A.D.) Ed. Maurinorum, Paris. 1693.

[85] ‘Media,’ so as to form a kind of common starting point from which the various other erroneous readings took their rise.—ED.

[86] Σημείοις is read by AD corrected later f Vulg. Breads σημείοις τε. Gg Syr. read καὶ σημείοις. Rec. Text reads ἐν σημείοις.—ED.

Verse 12. - The signs of an apostle. St. Paul always claimed to have attested his mission by spiritual and miraculous gifts (Romans 15:19; Acts 15:12). 2 Corinthians 12:12Signs (σημεῖα)

See on Matthew 24:24. Stanley observes that the passage is remarkable as containing (what is rare in the history of miracles) a direct claim to miraculous powers by the person to whom they were ascribed. Compare 1 Corinthians 2:4; Romans 15:19.

Were wrought (κατειργάσθη)

The testimony was decisive. They were fully wrought out.

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