2 Corinthians 13:2
I told you before, and foretell you, as if I were present, the second time; and being absent now I write to them which heretofore have sinned, and to all other, that, if I come again, I will not spare:
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(2) I told you before, and foretell you . . .—Better, I have warned you before (referring, probably, to the threat of 1Corinthians 4:13-19, and implied in 2Corinthians 1:23). The chief objects of this rigour were to be those whom he had described previously as “having sinned beforehand” (see Note on 2Corinthians 12:21); but he adds that his work as judge will extend to all the rest of the offenders. What he has in view is obviously passing a sentence of the nature of an excommunication on the offenders, “delivering them to Satan” (1Corinthians 5:5; 1Timothy 1:20), with the assured confidence that that sentence would be followed by some sharp bodily suffering. In that case men would have, as he says in the next verse, a crucial test whether Christ was speaking in him, and learn that he whom they despised as infirm had a reserve-force of spiritual power, showing itself in supernatural effects even in the regions of man’s natural life.

2 Corinthians 13:2-4. I told you before — As you will remember; and foretel you now, as if I were present — That is, I declare what you ought to regard as much as if I spake it personally to you; and being absent — In body, not in spirit; now I write to them who heretofore have sinned — In any scandalous and aggravated manner, namely, before ye received my letter; and to all others — Who have sinned since, and have not repented; that if I come again I will not spare — As I have hitherto done, but am determined, by the divine permission, to animadvert with severity upon notorious offenders, by the exertion of that miraculous power with which God hath endowed me. Since ye seek, &c. — This verse appears to be connected with the preceding, and in that case the sense is, I will not spare, since ye seek a proof of Christ speaking in, or by me. As if he had said, This course I am obliged to take, because you will not believe that Christ gives me authority for what I say and do, without some manifest proof of it; which to you-ward is not weak, &c. — But has manifested his mighty power in and among you by my ministry, in your conversion, gifts, &c., and will do it further by enabling me to punish you. For though he was crucified through weakness — As a weak, frail man, left to the impotence of human nature; yet he liveth — He rose from the dead, and is alive for evermore; by the power of God — Which hath exalted him to uncontrolled and universal authority; and this power you ought to stand in awe of in me his minister. For though we also are weak in him — And to them who regard only external appearances may seem contemptible, nevertheless we shall live with him; by the power of God toward you — Shall appear to be alive and powerful in and through Christ, being endowed with power from him to punish obstinate offenders.

13:1-6 Though it is God's gracious method to bear long with sinners, yet he will not bear always; at length he will come, and will not spare those who remain obstinate and impenitent. Christ at his crucifixion, appeared as only a weak and helpless man, but his resurrection and life showed his Divine power. So the apostles, how mean and contemptible soever they appeared to the world, yet, as instruments, they manifested the power of God. Let them prove their tempers, conduct, and experience, as gold is assayed or proved by the touchstone. If they could prove themselves not to be reprobates, not to be rejected of Christ, he trusted they would know that he was not a reprobate, not disowned by Christ. They ought to know if Christ Jesus was in them, by the influences, graces, and indwelling of his Spirit, by his kingdom set up in their hearts. Let us question our own souls; either we are true Christians, or we are deceivers. Unless Christ be in us by his Spirit, and power of his love, our faith is dead, and we are yet disapproved by our Judge.I told you before - That I would not spare offenders; that I would certainly punish them. He had intimated this before in the First Epistle 1 Corinthians 4:21; 1 Corinthians 5:1-13.

And foretell you - Now apprise you of my fixed determination to punish every offender as he deserves.

As if I were present, the second time - The mention of the second time here proves that Paul had been with them but once before. He had formed the resolution to go to them, but had been disappointed. The time when he had been with them is recorded in Acts 18:1 ff. He now uses the same language to them which he says he would use if he were with them, as he had expected to be, the second time. See the remarks of Paley on this passage, referred to above.

And being absent - see the note on 1 Corinthians 5:3.

To them which have heretofore sinned - To all the offenders in the church. They had supposed that he would not come to them 1 Corinthians 4:18, or that if he came he would not dare to inflict punishment, 2 Corinthians 9-11. They had, therefore, given themselves greater liberty, and had pursued their own course, regardless of his authority and commands.

I will not spare - I will punish them. They shall not escape.

2. Rather, "I have already said (at my second visit), and tell you (now) beforehand, AS (I did) WHEN I WAS PRESENT THE SECOND TIME, SO also NOW in my absence (the oldest manuscripts omit the 'I write,' which here wrongly follows in English Version Greek text) to them which heretofore have sinned (namely, before my second visit, 2Co 12:21), and to all others (who have sinned since my second visit, or are in danger of sinning)." The English Version, "as if I were present the second time," namely, this next time, is quite inconsistent with 2Co 13:1, "this is the third time I am coming to you," as Paul could not have called the same journey at once "the second" and "the third time" of his coming. The antithesis between "the second time" and "now" is palpable.

if I come again, &c.—that is, whensoever I come again (Ac 20:2). These were probably the very words of his former threat which he now repeats again.

I told you in my former Epistle, and now (though I be yet absent) I tell you beforehand, as though

I were present amongst you.

I write to them which heretofore have sinned, and to all other; I write this for the sake of those who have already sinned scandalously; and not for theirs only, but for the sake of others, who may have temptations so to offend.

That, if I come again, I will not spare; that, if I do come, and find any such who walk in courses of sin, and are hardened in them, so as all that I have said will not bring them to remorse and reformation,

I will not spare them, either as to sharp reprehensions, or as to ecclesiastical censures; according to the trust which Christ hath reposed in me. Some extend this further, to a power of inflicting bodily pains; but it is not clear that the apostles were intrusted with any such power ordinarily, though sometimes they did exert such a power; as appeareth, both from the instances of Ananias and Sapphira, Acts 5:1-11, and that of Elymas, Acts 13:8-11.

I told you before, and foretell you as if I were present a second time,.... He means, that he had in his former epistle faithfully told them of their evils, and admonished them for them; and now he sends to them a second time before his coming, and again admonishes them, as if he was upon the spot with them; so that they had, as before, three witnesses, also a first and second admonition; which, should they be without success, he must proceed further:

and being absent now, I write to them which heretofore have sinned; before he wrote his first epistle, of which he had information, and had faithfully reproved and admonished them; see 2 Corinthians 12:21.

And to all other; that might since be drawn into a compliance with sinful practices, through their example; or as the Arabic version renders it, "to the rest of the congregation"; who would be witnesses for him, and against them, that he had admonished them a first, and a second time: and by his present writing declares,

that if I come again; for, not knowing what might fall out to prevent him, though he was bent upon coming, and ready for it, nor what was the will of God about it, he does not choose to be positive in the matter; and therefore writes conditionally, and with a guard, and no doubt with a submission to the divine will:

I will not spare; this was the reason why as yet he had not been at Corinth, because he was willing to spare them; see 2 Corinthians 1:23 being loath to come to severities, if gentler methods would take effect; but now having used all proper means, he is at a point, aud determined not to spare, but to use his apostolical rod, or that power which the Lord had given him in an extraordinary way, as an extraordinary officer, to punish incorrigible offenders, in such manner as the incestuous person, and Hymenaeus and Philetus had been used by him.

I told you before, and foretell you, as if I were present, the second time; and being absent now I write to them which heretofore have sinned, and to all other, that, if I come again, I will not spare:
2 Corinthians 13:2. Ὡς παρὼννῦν is not to be put in a parenthesis, since it is a definition to προλέγω, which interrupts neither the construction nor the sense. I have said before, and say beforehand, as at my second visit (“sicut feci, cum secundo vobiscum essem,” Er. Schmid), so also in my present absence, to those who have formerly sinned, and to all the rest, that, when I shall have come again, I will not spare. Accordingly ὡς παρὼν τὸ δεύτερον leaves no doubt as to the temporal reference of προείρηκα. Moreover, from 2 Corinthians 13:2 alone the presence of the apostle, which had already twice taken place, could not be proved. For, if we knew that he had been only once, προείρηκα would certainly refer to the first epistle, and ὡς παρὼν κ.τ.λ. would have to be explained: as if I were present for the second time, although I am now absent (comp. Grotius, Estius, Bengel, Rosenmüller, Flatt, Baur, and others).[393] But, as it is clear from other passages that Paul had already been twice in Corinth, and as here in particular ΤΡΊΤΟΝ ΤΟῦΤΟ ἜΡΧΟΜΑΙ immediately goes before, that view, in which also the ΝῦΝ would simply be superfluous and cumbrous, is impossible. Beza, who is followed by Zachariae and Märcker, connects awkwardly (seeing that ΤῸ ΔΕΎΤΕΡΟΝ and ΝῦΝ must correspond to each other) ΤῸ ΔΕΎΤΕΡΟΝ with ΠΡΟΛΈΓΩ. Hofmann also misses the correct view, when he makes Ὡς serve merely to annex the quality (“as one having been there a second time, and now absent”), in which the apostle has said and says beforehand. In this way ὡς would be the quippe qui from the conception of the speaker, as in 1 Corinthians 7:25, and παρών would be imperfect. The two clauses of the sentence, however, contain in fact not qualities subjectively conceived, but two objective relations of time; and hence ὡς, if it is to have the sense given above, would simply be irrelevant (comp. 1 Corinthians 5:3 a; 2 Corinthians 10:11; Php 1:27) and confusing. Paul would have simply written: προείρηκα παρὼν τὸ δεύτερον καὶ προλέγω ἀπὼν νῦν.

τοῖς προηματηκόσι] See on 2 Corinthians 12:21. It is self-evident, we may add, that the ΠΡΟ in ΠΡΟΗΜΑΡΤ. has from the standpoint of the ΠΡΟΛΈΓΩ a greater period of the past behind it than from the standpoint of the ΠΡΟΕΊΡΗΚΑ, and that the ΠΡΟΗΜΑΡΤΗΚΌΤΕς, whom the present ΠΡΟΛΈΓΩ threatens, were more, and in part other, than those to whom at the second visit the ΠΡΟΕΊΡΗΚΑ had applied. The category, however, is the same; and hence it is not to be said, with Lücke, that from our passage it is clear: “quibus nunc, tanquam προημαρτηκόσι, severiorem castigationem minatur apostolus, eosdem jam tunc, quum olim (προείρηκα) minitatus esset, προημαρτηκότας fuisse.” Paul had at his second presence threatened the προημαρτηκότες, and he threatens them also now. On the two occasions the threat referred to the same genus hominum, to those who had sinned before the time at which Paul discoursed to the Corinthians, and were still sinners; but the individuals were not on the two occasions quite the same. Certainly at least there were now (προλέγω) not a few among them, who had not been included on the previous occasion (see 1 Corinthians 1:11; 1 Corinthians 5:1, comp. with 2 Corinthians 12:20-21).

καὶ τοῖς λοιποῖς πᾶσιν] Thus ΤΟῖς ΜῊ ΠΡΟΗΜΑΡΤΗΚΌΣΙ. To these he then said it before, and he says it so now, by way of warning, of deterring. It is the whole other members of the church that are meant, and Paul mentions them, not as witnesses, but in order that they may make the threatening serve according to the respective requirements of their moral condition to stimulate reflection and discipline; hence τοῖς λοιποῖς, even according to our view of ΠΡΟΗΜΑΡΤ., is not without suitable meaning (in opposition to de Wette).

] On the ΠΆΛΙΝ used substantially, see Bernhardy, p. 328, and on ΕἸς in the specification of a term of time, Matthiae, p. 1345. Comp. ΕἸς ΑὖΘΙς, ΕἸς ὈΨΈ, Ἐς ΤΛΟς, and the lik.

Οὐ ΦΕΊΣΟΜΑΙ] The reasons why Paul spared them in his second, certainly but very short, visit, are as little known to us, as the reason why Luke, who has in fact passed over so much, has made no mention of this second visit in the Book of Acts.

[393] To this category belongs also the strange view of Lange, apost. Zeitalt. I. p 203: “This is the second time that I am present among you and yet absent at the same time.” Paul, namely, had, in Lange’s view, the spirit-like gift of transplanting himself with the full spiritual power of his authority during his absence into the midst of the distant church, which had doubtless felt the thunderclap of his spiritual appearing. In Corinth this had taken place the first time at the exclusion of the incestuous person, 1 Corinthians 5:3, and the second time now. Of such fancies and spiritualistic notions there is nowhere found any trace in the apostle. And what are we to make in that case of the νῦν? The only correct view of this νῦν and its relation to τὸ δεύτερον is already given by Chrysostom: παρεγενόμην δεύτερον καὶ εἶπον, λέγω δὲ καὶ νῦν διὰ τῆς ἐπιστολῆς, ἀνάγκη με μοιπὸν ἀληθεῦσαι. Comp. also ver. 10.

2 Corinthians 13:2. προείρηκα καὶ προλ. κ.τ.λ.: I have said beforehand (at chap. 2 Corinthians 10:6; 2 Corinthians 10:11, 2 Corinthians 12:21), and I do say beforehand, as when I was present the second time (cf. 2 Corinthians 2:1, 2 Corinthians 12:14), so now being absent, to them that have sinned heretofore, i.e., before my second visit (as at 2 Corinthians 12:21), and to all the rest, i.e., any more recent offenders, that if I come again I will not spare. It was “to spare” them that he had paid hitherto no further visit after his second (2 Corinthians 1:23). He proceeds to give the reason why he will not “spare” if such a visit should be necessary; viz., they have challenged his Apostolic authority.

2. I told you before, and foretell you] Literally, I have spoken beforehand, and I say beforehand (I seide bifor and seie bifor, Wiclif. Similarly Tyndale and Cranmer). The repetition is for the sake of emphasis. Cf. Galatians 1:9. See also 1 Corinthians 4:21.

as if I were present the second time] Some, supposing that St Paul had already visited Corinth twice, would render ‘when present the second time.’ But the rendering in the text is more literal.

and being absent now] The word now belongs to being absent, not, as in the A. V., to what follows. The meaning is that though now absent (cf. 1 Corinthians 5:3), the Apostle speaks as he will find it necessary to speak when present, with decision and sternness, unless (ch. 2 Corinthians 12:21) the offending persons repent.

them which heretofore have sinned] The same words as were translated have sinned already in ch. 2 Corinthians 12:21.

and to all other] Literally, to all the rest, inasmuch as some of the Corinthians derided the idea that St Paul would act with firmness, and the whole Church needed some assurance to that effect. See note on ch. 2 Corinthians 1:23.

2 Corinthians 13:2. Προείρηκα καὶ προλἐγω, I told you before and I tell you beforehand) Refer to the former the words, as if I were present the second time; to the latter, the words, being now absent. He seriously forewarns them. There is in the text, which excludes the word γράφω as an inferior reading,1[90] an uninterrupted chiasmus throughout theesdras three members of the sentence, in the following order:

[90] ABD (Λ) corrected later, Gfg Vulg. reject γράφω. Rec. Text supports it without any of the oldest authorities for it.—ED.

and I tell beforehand

I told before,



as if I were present the second time and (viz. no doubt when he had come to the neighbourhood towards Corinth, and had already determined to go thither himself also, although he afterwards forbore),


being absent now



to those who have heretofore sinned, namely before this second visit,


to all others, who afterwards sinned, after my second coming, and yet before my third.

οὐ φείσομαι, I will not spare) He had formerly spared, 2 Corinthians 1:23.

Verse 2. - I told you before; rather, I have told you before. As if I were present, the second time. The meaning seems to be, "You must understand this announcement as distinctly as if I were with you, and uttered it by word of mouth." And being absent now I write; rather, so now being absent. The verb "I write" is almost certainly an explanatory gloss. And to all other; rather, and to the rest, all of them. Namely, to those who, though they may not have fallen into gross sin, still rejected St. Paul's authority, and said that he was afraid to come in person. I will not spare (2 Corinthians 1:23; 2 Corinthians 4:19, 21). 2 Corinthians 13:2I told you before and foretell you (προείρηκα καὶ προλέγω)

Rev., I have said beforehand, and I do say beforehand. The renderings of the A.V. and Rev. should be carefully compared. The difference turns mainly on the denial or assumption of the second visit; the A.V. representing the former, and the Rev. the latter. I have said beforehand thus refers to the second visit; I do say beforehand, to his present condition of absence.

As if I were present, the second time (ὡς παρὼν τὸ δεύτερον)

Rev., as when I was present the second time; thus making a distinct historical reference to the second visit. Note the comma after present in A.V. According to this, the second time is connected with προλέγω, I say beforehand the second time. Another explanation, however, on the assumption of only two visits is, as if I were present this next time.

And being absent now I write to them which heretofore, etc. (καὶ ἀπὼν νῦν γράφω)

I write must be omitted; now connected with being absent; and to them which connected with I say beforehand. Render, so now being absent (I say beforehand) to them which, etc.

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