2 Corinthians 12:16
But be it so, I did not burden you: nevertheless, being crafty, I caught you with guile.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(16) But be it so, I did not burden you.—The pronoun is again emphatic. The word for “burden” is not the same as in 2Corinthians 12:13-14, but puts the fact less figuratively. The abruptness of the sentence requires us to trace between the lines the under-currents of unexpressed thoughts. The extreme, almost jealous, sensitiveness of the Apostle’s nature leads him to imagine the cynical sneer with which these assertions of disinterested work would be received. “Be it so,” he hears them saying; “we admit that he, in his own person, when he was with us, made no demands on our purses; but what are we to think of this ‘collection for the saints’? How do we know into whose pockets that money will go? We know him to be subtle enough” (the adjective is that from which we get the “subtlety” of 2Corinthians 4:2; 2Corinthians 11:3) “to take us in somehow: what if the collection be a trap?” There is a specially taunting force in the Greek for “being crafty,” as taking the fact for granted, and assuming that it would inevitably lead on to some new development of that character in act.

2 Corinthians 12:16-18. Be it so, &c. — But some may object; though I did not burden you — Though I did not take any thing of you myself; yet being crafty, I caught you with guile — I did secretly by my messengers what I would not do openly or in person. I answer this lying accusation by appealing to plain fact. Did I make a gain of you by any of my messengers? — You know the contrary. It should be carefully observed that St. Paul does not allow, but absolutely denies, that he had caught them with guile. So that the common plea for guile, which has been drawn from this text, is utterly without foundation. I desired Titus — To go to you; and with him I sent a brother — Who that brother was, is not known. He may have been one of the apostle’s companions in travel, who was with him in Ephesus when he wrote his first epistle to the Corinthians. Or he may have been one of the Ephesian brethren, whose zeal for the gospel moved him to accompany Titus to Corinth, when he carried the former letter. Did Titus make a gain of you? — Did he draw any money from you, either on account of his own maintenance, or on pretence that he would persuade me to receive it for mine? Walked we not in the same spirit, &c. — Did we not all agree in mind and practice?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.But be it so - This is evidently a charge of his enemies; or at least a charge which it might be supposed they would make. Whether they ever in fact made it, or whether the apostle merely anticipates an objection, it is impossible to determine. It is clearly to be regarded as the language of objectors; for:

(1) It can never be supposed that Paul would state as a serious matter that he had caught them with deceit or fraud.

(2) he answers it as an objection in the following verse. The meaning is, "We admit that you did not burden us. You did not exact a support from us. But all this was mere trick. You accomplished the same thing in another way. You professed when with us not to seek our property but our souls. But in various ways you contrived to get our money, and to secure your object. You made others the agents for doing this, and sent them among us under various pretexts to gain money from us." It will be remembered that Paul had sent; Titus among them to take up the collection for the poor saints in Judea 2 Corinthians 8:6, and it is not at all improbable that some there had charged Paul with making use of this pretence only to obtain money for his own private use. To guard against this charge. was one of the reasons why Paul was so anxious to have some persons appointed by the church to take charge of the contribution; see 1 Corinthians 16:3; compare the notes on 2 Corinthians 8:19-21.

Being crafty - Being cunning That is, by sending persons to obtain money on different pretences.

I caught you with guile - I took you by deceit or fraud. That is, making use of fraud in pretending that the money was for poor and afflicted saints, when in reality it was for my own use. It is impossible that Paul should have ever admitted this of himself; and they greatly pervert the passage who suppose that it applies to him, and then plead that it is right to make use of guile in accomplishing their purposes. Paul never carried his measures by dishonesty, nor did he ever justify fraud; compare the notes on Acts 23:6.

16. I did not burden you—The "I" in the Greek is emphatic. A possible insinuation of the Corinthians is hereby anticipated and refuted: "But, you may say, granted that I did not burden you myself; nevertheless, being crafty, I caught you (in my net) with guile"; namely, made a gain of you by means of others (1Th 2:3). I hear what some say: It is true, that when I was myself with you, I laid no burden upon you, did not put upon you any collection for me; but, like a crafty man, I set others to take money of you for my use; so as, what I did not by myself, I did by those whom I employed. This appeareth to be the sense by what followeth in the next verse, where he appealeth to them for his vindication of this particular. But be it so, I did not burden you,.... These words are not spoken by the apostle in his own person of himself, but in the person of his adversaries, and contain a concession and an objection of theirs, but be it so; they granted that he had not burdened the Corinthians, that he had took nothing of them himself for preaching the Gospel; they owned that he had preached it freely; this was so clear a point, and so flagrant a case, that they could not deny it; yet they insinuated to the Corinthians, and objected to the apostle, that though he did not receive anything from them with his own hands, yet he craftily and cunningly made use of others to drain their purses, and receive it for him; and which is suggested in the next clause:

nevertheless, being crafty, I caught you with guile; so say the false apostles of me; for these are not the words of the apostle in his own person; nor to be understood of any spiritual craft, or lawful cunning and prudent artifices used by him, to allure and draw the Corinthians into a good liking and opinion of the Gospel and of his ministry, and so caught them, and was the happy means of their conversion; but they are spoken in the person of the false apostles, charging him with a wicked and criminal craftiness, by making use of other persons in a sly underhanded way, to get this church's money, when he pretended to preach the Gospel freely; to which he answers in the next verse.

{6} But be it so, I did not burden you: nevertheless, being crafty, I caught you with guile.

(6) He sets aside another most grievous slander, that is, that he did subtly and by others make his gain and profit of them.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
2 Corinthians 12:16-18. Refutation of the possible slander, which assuredly was also actually ventured on the part of his adversaries, that, if he had not himself directly burdened the Corinthians, he had still done so in a cunning way indirectly by means of his emissaries.

In 2 Corinthians 12:16 Paul does not, indeed, speak in the person of his opponents, for otherwise, instead of ἐγώ, he must have expressed himself in the third person; but he clothes his speech in the words of his adversaries.[382]

ἔστω δέ] concessive: but be it so, it may, however, be the case that I have not oppressed you. Comp. Plat. Gorg. p. 516 C, al. (Krüger, § 54, 4. 2); also the εἶεν, very common in classical writers, Stallbaum, ad Plat. Euthyph. p. 13 D; Reisig, ad Oed. Col. 1303, and for the similar use of the Latin esto, sit ita sane, Cicero, Tusc. i. 43. 102; De Fin. iv. 45.

ἐγώ] my own perso.

ἈΛΛʼ ὙΠΆΡΧΩΝ Κ.Τ.Λ.] no longer depends on ἜΣΤΩ ΔΈ, but is the contrast—to be read as an exclamation—of ἜΣΤΩ ΔῈ, ἘΓῺ Οὐ ΚΑΤΕΒΆΡ. ὙΜᾶς: but cunningly I, et.

δόλῳ] This would have been the case, if he had made plunder of them indirectly by a third han.

ἜΛΑΒΟΝ] caught, figure taken from hunting. See on 2 Corinthians 11:20. Comp. on δόλῳ λαμβάν. Soph. Phil. 101, 107, 1266.—2 Corinthians 12:17-18 now show in lively questions, appealing to the reader’s own experience, how untrue that ἀλλʼ ὑπάρχωνἔλαβον was. Have I then overreached you by one of those whom I sent to you? namely, by claims for money, and the like. The construction is anacoluthic, inasmuch as Paul, for emphasis, prefixes absolutely the τινα ὧν ἀπέσταλκα πρὸς ὑμᾶς as the object of what he wishes to say, and then subjoins the further statement independently of it, so that the accusative remains the more emphatically pendent—a usage found also in classical writers. See Bernhardy, p. 133.

ὧν] τούτων οὕς. Comp. Romans 15:18.

In 2 Corinthians 12:18 he now mentions, by way of example, Titus, whom he had encouraged to travel to Corinth, and his fellow-envoy, and he asks, significantly repeating ἐπλεονέκτ. and prefixing it: Has Titus overreached you? This journey of Titus to Corinth is not, as is otherwise usually supposed, the one mentioned in chap. 8, which had yet to be made, and in which Titus had two companions (2 Corinthians 8:18; 2 Corinthians 8:22), but the one made soon after our first Epistle, and mentioned in chap. 7. The fact that Titus ‘only is here mentioned, and not also Timothy (1 Corinthians 4:17; 1 Corinthians 16:10), is made use of to support the opinion that Timothy had not come to Corinth at all (see the Introd.). Comp. Rück. pp. 380, 409. But how groundlessly! From the long and close connection of the apostle with the Corinthians it may be even à priori concluded, that he had sent various persons to Corinth beside Titus; and he himself testifies this by the plural ὧν ἀπέσταλκα. But here he names only Titus instar omnium as the one last sent. Besides, it would not have been even proper to say: I have sent Timothy to you, since Timothy, in fact, was joint-sender of the letter (2 Corinthians 1:1).

τὸν ἀδελφόν] the brother (fellow-Christian) well known to them (but unknown to us).[383] That in that mission he was quite subordinate to Titus is clear from συναπέστ., and from the fact that in what follows the conduct of Titus alone is spoken o.

τῷ αὐτῷ πνευμ.] with the same Spirit, namely, with the Holy Spirit determining our walk and excluding all πλεονεξία. The dative is that of manner to the question how? Comp. Acts 9:31; Acts 21:21; Romans 13:13. It may, however, also be just as fitly taken as dative of the norm (Galatians 5:16; Galatians 6:16). We cannot decide the point. If the inward agreement is denoted by τῷ αὐτῷ πνευμ., the likeness of outward procedure is expressed by τοῖς αὐτοῖς ἴχυεσι (comp. Plat. Phaed. p. 276 D: τῷ ταὐτὸν ἴχνος μετιόντι). But here the dative is local, as in Acts 14:16; Judges 1:11 (comp. Fritzsche, ad Rom. I. p. 225 f.). So Pind. Pyth. x 20: ἐμβέβακεν ἴχνεσιν πατρός, comp. with Nem. vi 27: ἴχνεσιν ἐν Πραξιδάμαντος ἐὸν πόδα νέμων. Whose are the footsteps, in which the two walked? The footsteps of Paul, in which Titus followed his predecessor (comp. Lucian, Herm. 73), so that they thereby became the same, in which both walked—said with reference to the unselfishness maintained by both. The context does not yield any reference to Christ (1 Peter 2:21).

[382] Let us conceive that they had asserted regarding Paul: ἔστω δέ· αὐτὶς οὐ κατεβάρησεν ὑμᾶς κ.τ.λ. This Paul makes use of, inasmuch as he, entering into their meaning, says of himself, what they have said of him—a mimesis, which is almost a parody.

[383] According to Wieseler, Chronol. p. 349, it was Tychicus, as also at 2 Corinthians 8:22. This rests on a combination drawn from Titus 3:12.2 Corinthians 12:16. ἔστω δὲ κ.τ.λ.: but he it so! I did not myself burden you (cf. 2 Corinthians 11:9 and 2 Corinthians 12:13). This the Corinthians grant as indisputable, but they allege a sinister reason, viz., being crafty (for ὑπάρχων see on 2 Corinthians 8:17) I caught you (see on 2 Corinthians 11:20) with guile (cf. 2 Corinthians 4:2, μὴ περιπατοῦντες ἐν πανουργίᾳ μηδὲ δολοῦντες κ.τ.λ.). That is, his adversaries hinted that, although he did not accept maintenance directly, yet the collection made for the Judæan Christians was under his hand, and that he was not above suspicion in his disposal of it. To this he returns an indignant denial, and appeals directly to their own observation of the messengers whom he had sent, of whom Titus (at least) had met him in Macedonia with a report (2 Corinthians 7:6) and was sent back to Corinth with two companions to complete the business, carrying this letter (2 Corinthians 8:6; 2 Corinthians 8:18 ff.).16. But be it so] St Paul returns to the charge in 2 Corinthians 12:13. He supposes his antagonists to admit that, as far as he himself is concerned, he has given it a satisfactory answer. But he is prepared for any amount of unjust insinuations. He expects (see note on 2 Corinthians 12:13, on the words ‘I myself’) that they will attempt to charge him with making use of others to do what he boasted of not doing himself.

nevertheless, being crafty, I caught you with guile] These words are frequently quoted as though the practice here referred to were a defensible one. The next verse shews that St Paul repudiates such an imputation with the utmost distinctness. For crafty see ch. 2 Corinthians 4:2, 2 Corinthians 11:3.2 Corinthians 12:16. Ἀλλʼ ὑπάρχων, but inasmuch as I was) an objection which the Corinthians [moved by suspicion, V. g.] might frame.[87] The answer is in the following verse.—ἜΛΑΒΟΝ, I caught) that you might not escape the net, that was set with a view to my gain.

[87] i.e., You may object and say that though I did not burden you, I yet, as being crafty, caught you by guile.—ED.Verse 16. - But be it so, I did not burden you. The "I" is emphatic. It is shocking to think that, even after Paul has so triumphantly cleared himself from the disgraceful charge of trying to make gain out of the Corinthians, he should still be obliged to meet the slanderous innuendo that, even if he had not personally tried to get anything out of them, still he had done so indirectly through the agency of Titus. Being crafty, I caught you with guile. He is here quoting the sneer of his enemies (see what he has already said in 2 Corinthians 1:12; 2 Corinthians 7:2). The word used for "being" means "being by my very nature." With guile

Alluding to a charge that he availed himself of the collection for the poor to secure money for himself. He uses his adversaries' words.

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