2 Corinthians 12:13
For what is it wherein you were inferior to other churches, except it be that I myself was not burdensome to you? forgive me this wrong.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(13) What is it wherein ye were inferior to other churches?—His mind travels back to the insinuation that he cared less for them than he did for the churches of Macedonia, because he had maintained his independence and had received no gifts from them. If they complained of this, they should, at least, remember that this was the only point of inferiority. They had experienced fully all the advantages that flowed from his special power as an Apostle. For that wrong, so far as it was a wrong, he asks their forgiveness.

That I myself was not burdensome.—He uses here, and in the next verse, the same characteristic word for “sponging” on them, which has been commented on in the Note on 2Corinthians 11:9. He obviously dwells on it with a touch of irony, as a word that had been used of him by some of his rivals.

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.For what is it ... - This verse contains a striking mixture of sarcasm and irony, not exceeded, says Bloomfield, by any example in Demosthenes. the sense is," I have given among you the most ample proof of my apostolic commission. I have conferred on you the highest favors of the apostolic office. In these respects you are superior to all other churches. In one respect only are you inferior - it is in this, that you have not been burdened with the privilege of supporting me. If you had had this, you would have been inferior to no others. But this was owing to me; and I pray that you will forgive me this I might have urged it; I might have claimed it; I might have given you the privilege of becoming equal to the most favored in all respects. But I have not pressed it, and you have not done it, and I ask your pardon." There is a delicate insinuation that they had not contributed to his needs (see the note, 2 Corinthians 11:8); an intimation that it was a privilege to contribute to the support of the gospel, and that Paul might have been "burdensome to them" (see the notes on 1 Corinthians 9:1-12); and an admission that he was in part to blame for this, and had not in this respect given them an opportunity to equal other churches in all respects.

Was not burdensome to you - see this explained in the notes on 2 Corinthians 10:8.

Forgive me this wrong - "If it be a fault, pardon it. Forgive me that I did not give you this opportunity to be equal to other churches. It is a privilege to contribute to the support of the gospel, and they who are permitted to do it should esteem themselves highly favored. I pray you to pardon me for depriving you of any of your Christian privileges." What the feelings of the Corinthians were about forgiving Paul for this we know not; but most churches would be as ready to forgive a minister for this as for any other offence.

13. wherein you were inferior—that is, were treated with less consideration by me than were other churches.

I myself—I made a gain of you neither myself, nor by those others whom I sent, Titus and others (2Co 12:17, 18).

wrong—His declining support from the Corinthians might be regarded as the denial to them of a privilege, and a mark of their spiritual inferiority, and of his looking on them with less confidence and love (compare 2Co 11:9, 11).

Wherein have not you been used as any other gospel churches were, where Peter, or James, or any other of the apostles have laboured? Hath not the same doctrine been preached to you? Have not as great miracles been wrought amount you? Hath not the Holy Ghost been as plentifully shed abroad amongst you, to enrich you with all spiritual gifts, so as you have come behind in no gospel benefit? I know of nothing in which it hath not fared with you as with other churches, except in this; that whereas in other churches the apostles, or their pastors, have been burdensome to them, taking stipends and salaries for their pains, I have forborne it, and have not at all charged you. If this be a wrong to you, I hope it is not of that nature, but I may obtain a pardon for it. The reasons of the apostle’s thus sparing the church of Corinth more than some other churches, we have before guessed at. For what is it wherein ye were inferior to other churches,.... The apostle here suggests, and appeals to themselves for the truth of it, that in nothing they came short of other churches; that as he was not behind the very chiefest of the apostles, and so they had no reason to be ashamed of him and despise him; neither were they inferior in gifts, grace, and knowledge, to other churches, all which were through his ministry; wherefore they ought to have spoken well of him, and not to have taken the part of the false apostles against him; since all the honour and credit they were in as a church were owing to him as an instrument. The Gospel was first preached to them by an apostle; they were converted under the ministry of an apostle; they were planted and settled as a church by the means of an apostle; and in which respects no church could go beyond them, or boast of more; they had the same Gospel preached to them, and with as much power and purity as other churches; they had received the same Spirit, the same graces, and the same gifts of the Spirit, both ordinary and extraordinary; so that they came behind others in no gift whatever; see 1 Corinthians 1:7, and had the same miraculous works done among them, as were in other places, for the confirmation of the Gospel. There was not one thing the apostle could think of, in which they differed from others, and which he mentions;

except it be that I myself was not burdensome to you? because he freely preached the Gospel to them, took no wages of them, but chose rather to work with his own hands, and supply his necessities, than to be troublesome to them; in this, indeed, they differed from other churches, who liberally contributed to their ministers, and honourably maintained them:

forgive me this wrong; not that the apostle seriously desired this, or thought that he had done them any real injury, and so acknowledges it; for if any wrong was done hereby, it was to himself, and not them; but it is an ironical way of speaking, and was a sharp rebuke to them, for their ignorance, ingratitude, and negligence.

For what is it wherein ye were inferior to other churches, except it be that I myself was not {m} burdensome to you? forgive me this wrong.

(m) I was not slothful with my own hands, so that I might not be burdensome to you.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
2 Corinthians 12:13. Τί γάρ ἐστινὑμῶν] Bitterly ironical justification of what was said in 2 Corinthians 12:12. For what is there, in which you were placed at a disadvantage towards the other churches (in which I wrought), except, etc.? that is to say: for in nothing have you come behind, as compared with the other churches, except, etc. Quite arbitrarily Grotius limits this question, which embraces the whole blissful apostolic working, to the communication of gifts by the laying on of hands.

ὑπέρ] means nothing else than beyond, but in the direction downward (reference to the minus) which ἡττήθητε specifies. Comp. Winer, p. 376 [E. T. 502]. Rückert, overlooking the comparative sense of ἡττήθητε, says: there is here an ironical confession that all churches had disadvantage from Paul, and it is only denied that the disadvantage of the Corinthian was greater than that of the other churches. This would not suit at all as assigning a reason for 2 Corinthians 12:12. In assigning a reason, Paul could not but say: ye have in nothing come off worse; but to say, for your disadvantage has not been greater, would, with all its irony, be inappropriate. On the accusative of more precise definition with ἡττήθητε, comp. Xen. Cyr. i. 4. 5 : ἃ ἡττῷτο. The more usual construction or ἐν ᾧ.

εἰ μὴ ὅτι κ.τ.λ.] In this exception (“specie exceptionis firmat quod dieit,” Grotius) lies the painful bitterness of the passage, which in the request that follows χαρίσασθε κ.τ.λ. becomes still sharper. It is the love, deeply hurt in its pure consciousness, that speak.

αὐτὸς ἐγώ] I myself; this places his own person over against the apostolic services indicated in τίἡττήθητε. Comp. in general on Romans 9:3. Rückert (so also Bengel) holds that Paul has already had in his mind what he subjoins in 2 Corinthians 12:16-18. Such an arbitrary prolepsis of the reference is the more untenable, seeing that with 2 Corinthians 12:14-15 another train of ideas intervene.

οὐ κατενάρκησα ὑμῶν] See on 2 Corinthians 11:8. Only by the fact that he has not been burdensome to them in accepting payment and the like, has Paul asserted himself as an apostle less among them than among the other churches! For this injustice they are to pardon him!2 Corinthians 12:13. τί γάρ ἐστιν ὃ ἡσσ. κ.τ.λ.: for what is there wherein ye were treated as inferior (cf. 2 Peter 2:19) to the rest of the churches, except indeed that I myself did not burden you? Cf. Acts 20:33, 1 Corinthians 9:12 and 2 Corinthians 12:16. The emphatic αὐτὸς ἐγώ may indicate that it was only he himself (and not his colleagues) who refused maintenance (see on 2 Corinthians 11:12). This was the only σημεῖον τοῦ ἀποστόλου which he did not exhibit at Corinth, and he ironically adds, Forgive me this wrong.13. For what is it wherein ye were inferior to other churches] (hadden lesse than, Wiclif). There is no need to regard this, with some commentators, as “bitter irony.” There is nothing bitter about it. Ironical indeed it is, but it is irony of the very gentlest kind. ‘Everything that an Apostle can do has been done amongst you, except the throwing himself upon you for his maintenance’ (which had been made by the Apostle’s opponents one of the ‘signs of an Apostle;’ see 1 Corinthians 9:5-6). ‘Surely this is an offence which you might very readily forgive.’

I myself] St Paul’s resolution to decline maintenance at the hands of the Corinthians seems to have concerned himself alone, and not to have extended to his companions.

burdensome] See ch. 2 Corinthians 11:9.2 Corinthians 12:13. Τί, what) This word refers both to the antecedents and the consequents.—λοιπὰς, other churches) planted either by me or by the other apostles.—εἰ μὴταύτην, unless—this) a striking Asteismus [instance of refined pleasantry].—αὐτὸς, I myself) The antithesis follows, nor by others, 2 Corinthians 12:16-17. I did not burden you myself, nor make a gain of you by those others whom I sent, Titus, etc.—ἀδικίαν, wrong) The apostle might rightly [as opposed to ἀδικίαν] have accepted his maintenance from the Corinthians, and when he did not avail himself of this right, he imputes it to himself, as a wrong; and he gives it this name, not in the way of irony, with which the language of the apostle is inconsistent, but in the way of amphibology, for he uses ἀδικίαν in this passage, in a very unusual sense, which may be expressed in Latin by non-jus, and it has a in the privative sense, as ἄνομος, ἀνόμως, are sometimes used [without law; not contrary to law], Romans 2:12; 1 Corinthians 9:21 : so ἀνυπότακτον [not subjected, instead of insubordinate], Hebrews 2:8 : and yet it admits at the same time the idea of injustice, deprecating thereby all suspicion of want of love to the Corinthians [in his not accepting maintenance from them]; forgive me, comp. 2 Corinthians 11:11.Verse 13. - I was not burdensome. The same word as in 2 Corinthians 11:9. Forgive me this wrong. There is an exquisite dignity and pathos mixed with the irony of this remark. Except that I was not a burden

Alluding to the possible objection that his refusal to receive pay was a sign either of his want of power to exact it, or of his want of affection for them (2 Corinthians 11:7).

Forgive, etc.

Ironical.

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