Therefore I write these things being absent, lest being present I should use sharpness, according to the power which the Lord has given me to edification, and not to destruction.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Therefore I write these things being absent . . .—The words speak of an inner conflict, in which love has triumphed, not without pain, over feelings of bitterness and indignation. The storm has passed, and the sky is again clear. He does not recall what he has written, but he explains and half-apologises for it. It was better to speak with severity than to act. But even had it been necessary to act, as at one time he thought it would be, he wished them to understand that even then his aim would have been, as it was now, to restore them to their true completeness in Christ; not to inflict punishment for the sake of punishing, or as a mere display of power.
Lest being present I should use sharpness - In order that when I come I may not have occasion to employ severity; see the sentiment explained in the note on 2 Corinthians 10:2.
According to the power ... - That I may not use the power with which Christ has invested me for maintaining discipline in his church. The same form of expression is found in 2 Corinthians 10:8; see the note on that place.
edification … not to destruction—for building up … not for casting down. To "use sharpness" would seem to be casting down, rather than building up; therefore he prefers not to have to use it.2 Corinthians 10:8, and in the verse immediately preceding.
lest, being present, I should use sharpness; meaning severe reproofs and censures, or rather the exercise of the apostolic rod:
according to the power the Lord haft given me, to edification, and not to destruction; by striking persons dead, as Ananias and Sapphira were by Peter; or by delivering them up to Satan to have corporeal punishment inflicted on them, as were Hymenaeus and Philetus, and the incestuous person by the Apostle Paul; which, though it was for the destruction of the flesh, yet for the salvation of their souls, and for the good, use, and edification of the rest of the society, that they might take warning thereby, and shun the evils which were the occasion of such severity.Therefore I write these things being absent, lest being present I should use sharpness, according to the power which the Lord hath given me to edification, and not to destruction.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)2 Corinthians 13:10. This, namely, that I wish to have you δυνατούς or κατηρτισμένους and pray accordingly, this is the reason why I write this when absent, in order not to proceed sharply when present, etc. He wishes that he may be spared from the οὐ φείσομαι, threatened in 2 Corinthians 13:2, and that he may see the earnest anxiety, which he had already expressed at 2 Corinthians 12:20 f., dispelled. In virtue of this view of its practical bearing, ταῦτα is to be referred, not to the whole Epistle, but (comp. Osiander and Hofmann) to the current section from 2 Corinthians 12:20 onwar.
ἀποτόμως] literally, curtly,—that is, with thoroughgoing sternness,—the same figurative conception as in our schroff, scharf [English, sharply]. In the N. T. only recurring at Titus 1:13. Comp. Wis 5:22, and Grimm in loc.; ἀποτομία, Romans 11:22. More frequently in classical writers. See, in general, Fritzsche, ad Rom. II. p. 508; Hermann, ad Soph. O. R. 877.
On χράομαι without dative, with adverb, to deal with, comp. Esther 1:19; Esther 9:27; Esther 9:12; 2Ma 12:14; Polyb. xii. 7. 3.
ἣν ὁ Κύριος ἔδωκέ μοι εἰς οἰκοδ. κ.τ.λ.] contains a reason why he might not proceed ἀποτόμως, as thereby he could not but act at variance with the destined purpose for which Christ had given to him his apostolic authority, or at least could serve it only indirectly (in the way of sharp chastening with a view to amendment). Comp. 2 Corinthians 10:8. If we connect the whole κατὰ τ ἐξουσίαν κ.τ.λ. with γράφω (Hofmann), the ἵνα παρὼν μὴ ἀποτόμ χρήσωμαι is made merely a parenthetic thought, which is not in keeping with its importance according to the context (2 Corinthians 13:7 ff.), and is forbidden by the emphasized correspondence of ἀπών and παρών (comp. 2 Corinthians 13:2). This emphasis is all the stronger, seeing that ἀπών in itself would be quite superfluous.2 Corinthians 13:10. διὰ τοῦτο ταῦτα κ.τ.λ.: for this cause I write these things, i.e., this letter, while absent that I may not when present (cf. 2 Corinthians 2:3) deal sharply (we must understand ὑμῖν after χρήσωμαι, as at Esther 1:19; Esther 9:27) according to the authority which the Lord gave me for building up and not for casting down. The last clause is repeated verbatim from 2 Corinthians 10:8.
CONCLUSION.lest being present I should use sharpness] See ch. 2 Corinthians 1:23, and 2 Corinthians 13:2.
power] Rather, authority, as in ch. 2 Corinthians 10:8.
to edification] See note on 1 Corinthians 8:1. Also ch. 2 Corinthians 12:19, and especially 2 Corinthians 10:8, the words in which St Paul here repeats.2 Corinthians 13:10. Μοι, to me) Paul, in treating of his peculiar apostolic power, returns from the plural to the singular.Verse 10. - I should use sharpness. The word rendered "sharpness" is an adverb, like our "abruptly" or "precipitately." The only other passage of the New Testament where it occurs is Titus 1:13; but the substantive apotomia occurs in Romans 11:22 for "severity."
Rev., more literally and correctly, deal sharply, thus giving the force of the adverb. For sharply see on the kindred ἀποτομία severity, Romans 11:22.
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