2 Corinthians 13:4
For though he was crucified through weakness, yet he lives by the power of God. For we also are weak in him, but we shall live with him by the power of God toward you.
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(4) For though he was crucified through weakness . . .—The better MSS. give another reading, without the contingent or concessive clause: For even He was crucified. St. Paul seems to see in Christ the highest representative instance of the axiomatic law by which he himself had been comforted, that strength is perfected in infirmities. For He too lived encompassed with the infirmities of man’s nature, and the possibility of the crucifixion flowed from that fact, as a natural sequel.

For we also are weak in him, but we shall live with him.—The thought that underlies the apparently hard saying is that the disciples of Christ share at once in their Lord’s weakness and in His strength. “We, too, are weak,” the Apostle says; “we have our share in infirmities and sufferings, which are ennobled by the thought that they are ours because we are His; but we know that we shall live in the highest sense, in the activities of the spiritual life, which also we share with Him, and which comes to us by the power of God; and this life will be manifested in the exercise of our spiritual power towards you and for your good.” To refer the words “we shall live” to the future life of the resurrection, though the thought is, of course, true in itself, is to miss the special force of the words in relation to the context.

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.For though he was crucified through weakness - Various modes have been adopted of explaining the phrase "through weakness." The most probable explanation is that which refers it to the human nature which he had assumed Philippians 2:7-8; 1 Peter 3:18, and to the appearance of weakness which he manifested. He did not choose to exert his power. He appeared to his enemies to be weak and feeble. This idea would be an exact illustration of the point before the apostle. He is illustrating his own conduct, and especially in the fact that he had not exerted his miraculous powers among them in the punishment of offenders; and he does it by the example of Christ, who though abundantly able to have exerted his power and to have rescued himself from his enemies, yet was willing to appear weak, and to be crucified. It is very clear:

(1) That the Lord Jesus seemed to his enemies to be weak and incapable of resistance.

(2) that he did not put forth his power to protect his life. He in fact offered no resistance, as if he had no power.

(3) he had a human nature that was especially sensitive, and sensible to suffering; and that was borne down and crushed under the weight of mighty woes; see my notes on Isaiah 53:2-3. From all these causes he seemed to be weak and feeble; and these appear to me to be the principal ideas in this expression.

Yet he liveth - He is not now dead. Though he was crucified, yet he now lives again, and is now capable of exerting his great power He furnishes proof of his being alive, in the success which attends the gospel, and in the miracles which are performed in his name and by his power. There is a living Redeemer in heaven; a Redeemer who is able to exert all the power which he ever exerted when on earth; a Redeemer, therefore, who is able to save the soul; to raise the dead; to punish all his foes.

By the power of God - In raising him from the dead and placing him at his own right hand; see Ephesians 1:19-21. Through the power of God he was brought from the tomb, and has a place assigned him at the head of the universe.

For we also are weak in him - Margin, "with him." We his apostles, also, are weak in virtue of our connection with him. We are subject to infirmities and trials; we seem to have no power; we are exposed to contempt; and we appear to our enemies to be destitute of strength. Our enemies regard us as feeble; and they despise us.

But we shall live with him ... - That is, we shall show to you that we are alive. By the aid of the power of God we shall show that we are not as weak as our foes pretend; that we are invested with power; and that we are able to inflict the punishment which we threaten. This is one of the numerous instances in which Paul illustrated the case before him by a reference to the example and character of Christ. The idea is, that Christ did not exert his power, and appeared to be weak, and was put to death. So Paul says that he had not exerted his power, and seemed to be weak. But, says he, Christ lives, and is clothed with strength; and so we, though we appear to be weak, shall exert among you, or toward you, the power with which he has invested us, in inflicting punishment on our foes.

4. though—omitted in some of the oldest manuscripts; then translate, "For He was even crucified," &c.

through weakness—Greek, "from weakness"; that is, His assumption of our weakness was the source, or necessary condition, from which the possibility of His crucifixion flowed (Heb 2:14; Php 2:7, 8).

by—Greek, "from"; "owing to."

the power of God—the Father (Ro 1:4; 6:4; Eph 1:20).

weak in him—that is, in virtue of our union with Him, and after His pattern, weakness predominates in us for a time (exhibited in our "infirmities" and weak "bodily presence," 2Co 10:10; 12:5, 9, 10; and also in our not putting into immediate exercise our power of punishing offenders, just as Christ for a time kept in abeyance His power).

we shall live with him—not only hereafter with Him, free from our present infirmities, in the resurrection life (Php 3:21), but presently in the exercise of our apostolic authority against offenders, which flows to us in respect to you from the power of God, however "weak" we now seem to you. "With Him," that is, even as He now exercises His power in His glorified resurrection life, after His weakness for a time.

He had before said, that Christ in him was not weak, but mighty; here he showeth, that there was a time when Christ himself was weak, in a low and contemptible state, in which state he was crucified; this state of weakness subjected him to a death upon the cross: but,

by the power of God, he rose again from the dead, ascended up into heaven, where he liveth for ever to make intercession for us.

For we also are weak in him; in conformity to Christ (he saith) he and the rest of the apostles were

weak; in a low, abject, contemptible condition, exposed to reproaches, deaths, &c.

But we shall live; which some understand of life eternal, consequent to the resurrection of believers; but others better, of the life and vigour of the apostle’s ministry. Through the mighty power of God, flowing from a living Christ, who hath ascended up on high, and given gifts unto men, our ministry shall be a living, powerful, efficacious ministry toward you. For though he was crucified through weakness,.... Of the human nature; for the nature which Christ assumed was in all things like to ours, excepting sin; it was subject to all sinless infirmities; it was mortal, passible, liable to sufferings, and death, and so he came to be crucified; though not against his will, or without his previous assent; as God, he was able to have prevented his crucifixion if he would; he gave an instance of his power over men, at the time of his apprehension, by striking them down to the ground; and told Pilate his judge at his trial, that he could have no power to crucify him, if it was not given him from above; and he showed his superiority over devils when upon the cross, by spoiling principalities and powers; so that his crucifixion was not owing to want of power as God, but he became capable of it through his weakness as man:

but yet he lives by the power of God; he was raised from the dead by a divine power; by his own power as God, as well as by his Father's, and so was declared to be the Son of God with power; and he lives at the right hand of God as man and Mediator, vested with all power in heaven and in earth; though, in the days of his flesh, he appeared so weak, mean, and despicable: now the apostle mentions this case of our Lord's, to deter the Corinthians from despising him, on account of his outward weakness and meanness; and from hence buoying themselves up, and in which they were encouraged by the false apostles, that he had not, and could not exercise the power he talked of; they had observed what mean figure he made when he was among them; and whatever weight there might be in his letters, yet his bodily presence was weak, and his speech contemptible; wherefore he sets before them the instance of Christ, who though he appeared very weak in his state of humiliation, yet he now lives in power, to assist and strengthen his ministers, in every branch of their work; and suggests, that as it was with Christ, it was, and would be in some measure with him, and his fellow ministers:

for we also are weak in him: like him, and for his sake, they were subject to infirmities, reproaches, persecutions, and distresses; carried about daily the dying of the Lord Jesus; bore a very great resemblance to him in his state of humiliation; were very much as he was in this world, and bore much for his name's sake; the Alexandrian copy and the Syriac version read, "with him"; being crucified with him, and dead with him:

but we shall live with him by the power of God towards you; which is not to be understood of being raised by Christ to an immortal life, and of living with him in glory; though this is a certain truth, that such who suffer with Christ, shall live and reign, and be glorified together with him; but of the life, power, and efficacy of the ministers of Christ, and of Christ in and with them, displayed in the lively ministration of the word and ordinances, in the vigorous discharge of all the branches of their office; not only in preaching, but in rebuking, admonishing, laying on of censures, and punishing criminals; and especially regards the powerful exertion and use of the apostolic rod; for this life is not only with Christ, or through Christ being in them, notwithstanding all their outward weakness, and by the power of God, which supports them under all, and enables them to perform their work, but is "towards you"; the Corinthians, to be exercised towards them, to be seen among them, and felt by them.

For though he was crucified through {b} weakness, yet he liveth by the power of God. For we also are weak in him, but we shall live with him by the power of God toward you.

(b) Regarding that base form of a servant which he took upon him when he abased himself.

2 Corinthians 13:4. Καὶ γὰρ ἐσταυρ. ἐξ ἀσθ., ἀλλὰ ζῇ ἐκ δυνάμ. θεοῦ] Reason assigned for the previous ὃς εἰς ὑμᾶς οὐκ ἀσθενεῖ, ἀλλὰ δυνατεῖ ἐν ὑμῖν. for even crucified was He from weakness, but He is living from the power of God.[396] Without μέν after ἐσταυρ. the contrast comes in with the more striking effect. ἐξ ἀσθενείας denotes the causal origin of the ἐσταυρώθη, and is not, with Chrysostom (who complains of the difficulty of this passage), to be interpreted of apparent weakness, but finds its explanation in 2 Corinthians 8:9; Php 2:7 f. Jesus, namely, had, in the state of His exinanition and humiliation, obedient to the Father, entered in such wise into the condition of powerless endurance as man, that He yielded to the violence of the most ignominious execution, to which He had, according to the Father’s will, submitted Himself; and accordingly it came ἐξ ἀσθενείας, that He was crucified. But since His resurrection He lives (Romans 5:10; Romans 6:9; Romans 14:9, al.), and that from the power of God, for God has, by His power, raised Him up (see on Romans 6:4) and exalted Him to glory (Acts 2:33; Ephesians 1:20 ff.; Php 2:9). To make the θεοῦ refer to ἀσθενείας also (Hofmann, who inappropriately compares 1 Corinthians 1:25) would yield a thought quite abnormal and impossible for the apostle, which the very οὐκ ἀσθενεῖ, 2 Corinthians 13:3, ought to have preclude.

καὶ γὰρ ἡμεῖς κ.τ.λ.] Confirmation of the immediately preceding καὶ γὰρθεοῦ, and that in respect of the two points ἐξ ἀσθενείας and ζῇ ἐκ δυνάμεως θεοῦ. “That the case stands so with Christ as has just been said, is confirmed from the fact, that these two relations, on the one hand of weakness, and on the other of being alive ἐκ δυνάμ. θεοῦ, are found also in us in virtue of our fellowship with Him.” It is an argumentum ab effectu ad causam issuing from the lofty sense of this fellowship, a bold experiential certainty, the argumentative stress of which, contained in ἐν αὐτῷ and σὺν αὐτῷ, bears the triumphant character of strength in weakness. Hofmann wrongly, in opposition to the clear and simple connection, desires to take καὶ γὰρ ἡμεῖς ἀσθ. ἐν αὐτῷ, which he separates from the following ἀλλὰ κ.τ.λ., as a proof for the clause ὃς εἰς ὑμᾶς οὐκ ἀσθενεῖ, ἀλλὰ δυνατεῖ ἐν ὑμῖν, for which reason he imports into ἐν αὐτῷ the contrast: not a weakness of the natural man. This contrast, although in substance of itself correct, is not here, any more than afterwards in σὺν αὐτῷ, intentionally present to the mind of the apostl.

ἀσθενοῦμεν ἐν αὐτῷ] Paul represents his sparing hitherto observed towards the Corinthians (for it is quite at variance with the context to refer ἀσθ, with Chrysostom, Theodoret, Theophylact, Grotius, Estius, and others, to sufferings and persecutions) as a powerlessness based on his fellowship with Christ, inasmuch as Christ also had been weak and ἐσταυρώθη ἐξ ἀσθενείας.[397] But that is only a transient powerlessness; we shall be alive with Him through the power of God in reference to you. As he is conscious, namely, of that impotence as having its ground in Christ, he is conscious also of this being alive in union with Christ as fellowship with His life (σὺν αὐτῷ), and hence proceeding ἘΚ ΔΥΝΆΜΕΩς ΘΕΟῦ, as Christ’s being alive also flowed from this source, Romans 1:4; Romans 6:4, al.

Εἰς ὑμᾶς, lastly, gives to the ΖΉΣΟΜΕΝ (which is not, with Theodoret, Anselm, and Grotius, to be referred to the future life) its concrete direction and special reference of its meaning:[398] we shall be alive (vigere, comp. 1 Thessalonians 3:8) in reference to you, namely, through the effective assertion of the power divinely conferred on us, especially through apostolic judging and punishing (see 2 Corinthians 13:1-2). “Non est vivere, sed valere vita,” Martial, vi. 70. Comp. for the pregnant reference of ζῶ, Xen. Mem. iii. 3. 11; Plato, Legg. vii. p. 809 D; Dio Cass. lxix. 19. Calvin well observes: “Vitam opponit infirmitati, ideoque hoc nomine florentem et plenum dignitatis statum intelligit.”

[396] The Recepta καὶ γὰρ εἰ ἐσταυρ. would yield the quite unsuitable sense: for even if, i.e. even in the event that, He has been crucified, etc. Καὶ εἰ should not, with the Vulgate and the majority of expositors, be taken as although, for in that case it would be confounded with εἰ καί. Καὶ εἰ means even if, so that the climactic καί applies to the conditional particle. See Hartung, I. p. 140 f.; Haack. ad Thuc. p. 562 f.; Stallbaum, ad Plat. Ap. S. p. 32 A, Gorg. p. 509 A. De Wette wrongly rejects my view of the Recepta, making καὶ γάρ signify merely for. It always means for even. See Hartung, I. p. 148; Stallbaum, ad Plat. Gorg. p. 467 B. So, too, immediately in the καὶ γὰρ ἡμεῖς that follows. Hofmann quite erroneously takes the Recepta in such a way, that Paul with καὶ εἰ merely expresses a real fact conditionally on account of his wishing to keep open the possibility of looking at it also otherwise. In that case ἐξ ἀσθενείας would really be the point of consequence in the protasis, and the apostle must at least have written καὶ γὰρ εἰ ἐξ ἀσθενείας ἐσταυρώθη. Besides, the leaving open a possible other way of regarding the matter would have no ground at all in the text. A mistaken view is adopted also by Osiander, who has taken καί as the also of comparison, namely, of Christ with His servant (consequently, as if καὶ γὰρ αὐτός had stood in the text).

[397] This impotence is not to be conceived as involuntary (de Wette, following Schwarz in Wolf), but as voluntary (comp. οὐ φείσομαι, ver. 2), as Christ’s weakness also was voluntary, namely, the impotence of deepest resignation and self-surrender, and this was its very characteristic. Comp. Hebrews 12:2.

[398] Hence εἰς ὑμᾶς is not, with Castalio and Rückert, to be joined to δυνάμ. θεοῦ.2 Corinthians 13:4. (a) καὶ γὰρ ἐσταυρώθη κ.τ.λ.: for He was crucified through weakness (cf. Php 2:8, 1 Peter 3:18; ἐκ indicating that it was His self-assumed ἀσθένεια which made the Passion possible), but liveth through (ἐκ again indicating the ultimate condition) the Power of God (see reff. and cf. Romans 8:11, Ephesians 1:20, Php 2:9).—(b) καὶ f1γὰρ ἡμεῖς κ.τ.λ.: for we also are weak with Him (the reading ἐν αὐτῷ might be explained from such passages as 2 Corinthians 1:5, 2 Corinthians 4:10-11; but it is so startling that we hesitate to adopt it, when the MS. evidence is so evenly balanced; σὺν αὐτῷ means simply “we are weak, as He was weak, in the world’s eyes”; see 2 Corinthians 12:10), but we shall live with Him, not only in the Resurrection Life of believers (John 14:19, Romans 5:10; Romans 6:8), but through the Power of God toward you, i.e., through the powerful sanctions with which He will confirm our exercise of Apostolic discipline at Corinth (cf. 1 Corinthians 5:5). The thought is that already expressed in 2 Corinthians 12:10. He now resumes the argument of 2 Corinthians 13:3 a, sc., you are claiming to test my claims: you should look to yourselves; your faith is a witness to mine—that Christ dwells in you is a proof that He dwells in me, who preached Him to you. Cf. chap. 2 Corinthians 1:24, 2 Corinthians 3:2.4. For though he was crucified through weakness] Chrysostom observes that these words were a great difficulty to the weaker sort. But he explains them by John 11:3-4; Php 2:27; 1 Timothy 5:23, where the word in the original is the same as, or cognate to, that employed here. There is another reading here, which by omitting ‘though,’ or rather ‘if,’ in the original, strengthens the Apostle’s statement. There need be no difficulty. Our Lord assumed our human nature with all its infirmities (Hebrews 2:10-18; Hebrews 4:15; Hebrews 5:2-3; see also ch. 2 Corinthians 8:9, and Php 2:7-8), although they were the result of sin. He bore all those infirmities, death itself included. And then He shook them all off for ever when He rose again ‘by the power of God.’ Cf. Romans 1:4; 1 Corinthians 1:24.

For we also are weak in him] In this present life the Apostles of Christ were like their Master. Upborne by the power of God within, they had nevertheless to bear the load of human infirmity, to ‘take up their Cross and follow Him.’ See notes on ch. 2 Corinthians 4:10-12, and cf. Galatians 6:17. And not only so, but the words ‘in Him’ shew that it was a necessary part of their union with Him that they should be partakers of His tribulation, before they were translated into the fulness of His glory. See 2 Thessalonians 1:4-7; 1 Peter 1:5-7; 1 Peter 5:10.

we shall live with him] Not, as the following words shew, hereafter, but in the Apostle’s ministry to the Corinthians. Cf. 2 Corinthians 13:3. Also Romans 1:16; John 14:19; 1 Corinthians 1:18, and ch. 2 Corinthians 10:4-6, and note on ch. 2 Corinthians 4:14. The Gospel was a power which enabled men to change their lives, in that it was a ministering to them of the Spirit of Jesus Christ. Compare ch. 2 Corinthians 3:3; 2 Corinthians 3:6; 2 Corinthians 3:8-9 with Romans 8:9-10 and Php 1:19.2 Corinthians 13:4. Εἰ, if [though]) a concessive particle.—ἐσταυρώθη, was crucified) The cross, the utmost weakness; it includes death, for life, is put in antithesis to it.—ἐξ ἀσθενείας, owing to [through] weakness) It is the part of weakness to be crucified. This is the force of the particle.—ἀσθενοῦμεν ἐν αὐτῳ, we are weak in Him) Presently after, the particle is varied, σύν, with Him, being employed instead of the ἐν here; we are weak, we do not exercise δύναμιν, power, and therefore we ourselves are less sensible of it, inasmuch as the sense of tribulation prevails.Verse 4. - For though. The "though" should be omitted. Through weakness; literally, out of weakness; i.e. as a result of that human weakness of our nature which he took upon him, and which rendered him liable to agony and death (2 Corinthians 8:9; Philippians 2:7, 8; 1 Peter 3:18; Hebrews 2:10-18). But we shall live with him... toward you. This thought of participation alike in Christ's humiliation and his glory, alike in his weakness and his might, was very familiar to St. Paul (2 Corinthians 4:10-12; Ephesians 1:19, 20), Here, however, the following words," toward you," i.e." with reference to you," show that the life of which he is thinking is the vigorous reestablishment of his spiritual authority in Christ over the Church of Corinth.
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