2 Corinthians 13:7
Now I pray to God that you do no evil; not that we should appear approved, but that you should do that which is honest, though we be as reprobates.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(7) Now I pray to God that ye do no evil.—The better MSS. give, we pray. The words that follow involve a subtle play of thought and feeling on the two forms of the trial or scrutiny of which he has just spoken. “We pray,” he says, “that you may be kept from doing evil. Our purpose in that prayer is not that we may gain a reputation as successful workers in your eyes or those of others, but that you may do that which is nobly good (may advance from a negative to a positive form of holiness), even though the result of that may be that we no longer put our apostolic supernatural powers into play, and so seem to fail in the trial to which you challenge us.” This gives, it is believed, the true underlying thought of the words, and, though the paraphrase is somewhat full, it could not well be expressed in a narrower compass.

2 Corinthians 13:7-10. Now I pray God that ye do no evil — To give me occasion of showing my apostolical power; not that we should appear approved — I desire not to appear approved by miraculously punishing you; but that ye may do that which is honest Το καλον, that which is beautiful, amiable, and good; though we should be as if we were disapproved

Having no occasion to give that proof of our apostleship. For we can do nothing against the truth — Neither against that which is just and right, nor against those who walk according to the truths of the gospel. As if he had said, Walk as becomes the gospel, and you shall have no need to fear my power; for I have no power against those that so walk: but for the truth — In support of the gospel, and for spreading the knowledge of it; or, to encourage persons in the ways of piety and virtue, and to bring those into them that go astray therefrom. For we are glad when we are weak — When we appear so, having no occasion to use our apostolic power; and ye are strong — In gifts and graces; and this we wish, even your perfection — In faith, love, and obedience, that you may fully reform whatever is amiss, either in principle or practice; and that God would make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is well pleasing in his sight, Hebrews 13:21. Therefore I write these things — Thus largely, by way of counsel, caution, threatening, &c.; being absent — That you may reform; lest — If you do not, that, being present, I should use sharpness — Or severity; according to the divine and extraordinary power which the Lord Christ hath given me for the edification of his people, and not to the destruction of men’s lives and comforts.13:7-10 The most desirable thing we can ask of God, for ourselves and our friends, is to be kept from sin, that we and they may not do evil. We have far more need to pray that we may not do evil, than that we may not suffer evil. The apostle not only desired that they might be kept from sin, but also that they might grow in grace, and increase in holiness. We are earnestly to pray to God for those we caution, that they may cease to do evil, and learn to do well; and we should be glad for others to be strong in the grace of Christ, though it may be the means of showing our own weakness. let us also pray that we may be enabled to make a proper use of all our talents.Now I pray to God that ye do no evil - I earnestly desire that you may do right, and only right; and I beseech God that it may be so, whatever may be the result in regard to me, and whatever may be thought of my claims to the apostolic office. This is designed to mitigate the apparent severity of the sentiment in 2 Corinthians 13:6. There he had said that they would find him fully endowed with the power of an apostle. They would see that he was able abundantly to punish the disobedient. They would have ample demonstration that he was endowed by Christ with all the powers appropriate to an apostle, and that all that he had claimed had been well founded, all that he threatened would be executed. But this seemed to imply that he desired that there should be occasion for the exercise of that power of administering discipline; and he, therefore, in this verse, removes all suspicion that such was his wish, by saying solemnly, that he prayed to God that they might never do wrong; that they might never give him occasion for the exercise of his power in that way, though as a consequence he would be regarded as a reprobate, or as having no claims to the apostolic office. He would rather be regarded as an impostor; rather lie under the reproach of his enemies that he had no claims to the apostolic character, than that they, by doing wrong, should give him occasion to show that he was not a deceiver.

Not that we should appear approved - My great object, and my main desire, is not to urge my claims to the apostolic office and clear up my own character; it is that you should lead honest lives, whatever may become of me and my reputation.

Though we be as reprobates - I am willing to be regarded as rejected, disapproved, worthless, like base metal, provided you lead honest and holy lives. I prefer to be so esteemed, and to have you live as becomes Christians, than that you should dishonor your Christian profession, and thus afford me the opportunity of demonstrating, by inflicting punishment, that I am commissioned by the Lord Jesus to be an apostle. The sentiment is, that a minister of the gospel should desire that his people should walk worthy of their high calling, whatever may be the estimate in which he is held. He should never desire that they should do wrong - how can he do it? - in order that he may take occasion from their wrongdoing to vindicate, in any way, his own character, or to establish a reputation for skill in administering discipline or in governing a church. What a miserable condition it is - and as wicked as it is miserable - for a man to wish to take advantage of a state of disorder, or of the faults of others, in order to establish his own character, or to obtain reputation. Paul spurned and detested such a thought; yet it is to be feared it is sometimes done.

7. I pray—The oldest manuscripts read, "we pray."

not that we should appear approved—not to gain credit for ourselves, your ministers, by your Christian conduct; but for your good [Alford]. The antithesis to "reprobates" leads me to prefer explaining with Bengel, "We do not pray that we may appear approved," by restraining you when ye do evil; "but that ye should do what is right" (English Version, "honest").

though we be as reprobates—though we be thereby deprived of the occasion for exercising our apostolic power (namely, in punishing), and so may appear "as reprobates" (incapable of affording proof of Christ speaking in us).

Now I pray to God that ye do no evil; I do not desire that when I come I may find objects for my severity, upon whom I may show a proof of Christ in me, by exercising that authority upon them with which Christ hath intrusted me: no, on the contrary, I heartily pray that ye may be holy and blameless, without spot or wrinkle.

Not that we should appear approved; neither do I desire this for my own sake, that I may be approved, but I singly desire it for your good.

But that ye should do that which is honest, though we be as reprobates; that you may do that which is good; and then do you, and let the world, think of me as a reprobate, or what they will. Now l pray to God,.... A strong mark of the apostle's affection for them. For though they used him so ill, he took every way and method to do them good; he not only wrote to them, sent the brethren to them, but put up his supplications at the throne of grace for them: The Alexandrian copy, the Vulgate Latin, and Ethiopic versions, read, "we pray", &c. And one of his petitions for them was,

that ye do no evil; which, though impracticable and impossible, considering the situation of the people of God in this world, yet is desirable by every good man, both for himself and others; and was desired by the apostle, partly that their consciences might not be wounded, their souls grieved, their peace broke in upon, and their comforts lost; and partly that the name of God, and his cause and truths, might not be blasphemed; and chiefly that he might have no opportunity of exercising his apostolical rod for their correction:

not that we should appear approved. This was a clear case that he sought their good, and not his own credit, and the exercise of power; if they committed evil, his faithfulness would be seen in reproving, rebuking, and exhorting them; and if they continued impenitent, his apostolical authority would be manifest in their punishment, so that he would appear approved, or with a proof of the power of Christ in him; but this he did not desire, but most earnestly wished there might be no occasion for any such evidence:

but that they should do that which is honest; or "good", both in the sight of God and men, that which is according to the will of God, springs from love, is done in faith, and with a view to the glory of God; and the apostle's praying, both that they might be kept from evil, and do that which is good, shows the impotence of man's free will, the necessity of the grace of God to abstain from sin, and perform good works; and this the apostle earnestly desired,

though, says be,

we be as reprobates; weak and infirm persons, incapable of giving any proof of the power of Christ, and appear as such, who have no marks of apostolical authority. The apostle chose rather to be looked upon as a poor, mean, and insignificant person, than that they should sin, and require the exercise of his chastising rod, whereby he would be seen to be what they called in question.

Now I pray to God that ye do no evil; not that we should appear approved, but that ye should do that which is honest, though we be as {c} reprobates.

(c) In men's judgment.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
2 Corinthians 13:7. Yet we pray to God that this, my apostolic attestation, which I hope to give you means of discerning, may not be made necessary on your part. On εὐχόμεθα (see the critical remarks), compared with the ἐλπίζω used just before, observe that, as often in Paul and especially in this Epistle of vivid emotion, the interchange of the singular and the plural forms of expressing himself has by no means always special grounds by which it is determine.

μὴ ποιῆσαι ὑμᾶς κακὸν μηδέν] that ye may do nothing evil, which, in fact, would only keep up and increase your guilt. Others incorrectly take it,[400] “that I be not compelled to do something evil to you,” How could Paul have so designated his chastisement? For that ποιεῖν κακόν stands here, not in the sense: to do something to one’s harm, but in the ethical sense, is shown by the contrast τὸ καλὸν ποιῆτε in what follows. But even apart from this, in fact, because ΕὐΧΌΜΕΘΑ receives through ΠΡῸς ΤῸΝ ΘΕΌΝ (comp. Xen. Mem. i. 3. 2; 2Ma 9:13; 2Ma 15:27; Numbers 21:8, al.) the meaning we pray, the words, in the event of ποιῆσαι ὑμᾶς not being held to be accusative with infinitive, would have to be explained: we pray to God that He may do nothing evil to you—which would be absurd. But the accusative with the infinitive occurs as in Acts 26:19.

οὐχ ἵνα ἡμεῖς κ.τ.λ.] Statement of the object, for which he makes this entreaty to God, first negatively and then positively; not in a selfish design, not in order that we may appear through your moral conduct as attested (in so far, namely, as the excellence of the disciple is the attestation of the teacher, comp. 2 Corinthians 3:2 f., Php 4:1, 1 Thessalonians 2:20, al.), but on your account, in order that ye may do what is good, and thus the attestation may be on your side and we may be as unattested, in so far, namely, as we cannot in that case show ourselves in our apostolic authority (by sternness and execution of punishment). That he should with δόκιμοι and ἈΔΌΚΙΜΟΙ refer to two different modes of his ΔΟΚΙΜΉ, is quite a Pauline trait. Through the moral walk of the readers he was manifested on the one hand as ΔΌΚΙΜΟς, on the other as ἈΔΌΚΙΜΟς; what he intended in his ΕὐΧΌΜΕΘΑ ΠΡῸς ΤῸΝ ΘΕΌΝ Κ.Τ.Λ. was not the former, for it was not about himself that he was concerned, but the latter, because it was simply the attestation of the readers by the ΠΟΙΕῖΝ ΤῸ ΚΑΛΌΝ that he had at heart. According to Olshausen, there is meant to be conveyed in ΟὐΧ ἽΝΑ ἩΜΕῖς ΔΌΚ. ΦΑΝῶΜ.: not in order that the fulfilment of this prayer may appear as an effect of my powerful intercession. But Paul must have said this, if he had meant it. Others[401] hold that after οὐχ there is to be supplied ΕὔΧΟΜΑΙ, or the idea of wish implied in it, and ἽΝΑ expresses its contents; “I do not wish that I should show myself as standing the test (that is, stern), but rather that ye may do what is good and I be as not standing the test (that is, may appear not standing the test, and so not stern),” Billroth. Certainly the contents of εὔχεσθαι might be conceived as its aim, and hence be expressed by ἽΝΑ (Jam 5:16; Colossians 1:9; 2 Thessalonians 1:11); but in this particular case the previous infinitive construction, expressing the contents of the prayer, teaches us that Paul has not so conceived it. Had he conceived it so, he would have simply led the readers astray by ἵνα. The explanation is forced, and simply for the reason that the fine point of a double aspect of the δοκιμή was not appreciated. From this point of view Paul might have said in a connection like 2 Corinthians 6:8 f.: Ὡς ἈΔΌΚΙΜΟΙ ΚΑῚ ΔΌΚΙΜΟΙ.

Ἑς ἈΔΌΚΙΜΟΙ
] Beza aptly says: hominum videlicet judicio. By way of appearance. Comp. already Chrysostom.

[400] So Billroth, Ewald, Hofmann, and previously Flatt and Emmerling, as in the first instance Grotius, who says: “Ne cogar cuiquam poenam infligere, quae malum, dicitur, quia dura est toleratu.” On ποιεῖν τινά τι, comp. Matthew 27:22; Mark 15:12. Elsewhere always in the N. T. ποιεῖν τινί τι.

[401] So Billroth and Osiander and others, as well as previously Flatt, Zachariae, Estius, Menochius, al.2 Corinthians 13:7. εὐχόμεθα δὲ κ.τ.λ.: now we pray to God (for εὐχ. πρὸς cf. Numbers 11:2) that ye do no evil; not that ye may appear approved, i.e., the motive of his prayer was not that his ministry should be accredited by its success, but that ye may do that which is honourable (see reff. and mark the contrast between τὸ κακόν and τὸ καλόν), even though we be as reprobate. That is, his prayer was for their sakes, and it was sincerely offered although, if it were fully answered, there would be no occasion for the exercise of his apostolic authority, and so the δοκιμή or “proof” which the malcontents were asking for (2 Corinthians 13:3) would not be manifested. And he gives two reasons for this disinterestedness of his intercessions for them: (i.) he could not exercise his authority, even if he would, except in conformity with the facts (2 Corinthians 13:8), and (ii.) their moral growth is a real joy to him (2 Corinthians 13:9).7. Now I pray to God that ye do no evil] St Paul’s whole heart is set upon the desire that the power of Christ which dwells in the Christian body should be displayed in the victory of his converts over evil, and this not for any personal ends of his own—not even in order that he might manifest the high estimation in which God holds him—but simply for the sake of Him Whose minister he is, and for their sakes to whom he ministers Him.

approved] The opposite to reprobate, or rather rejected. See also ch. 2 Corinthians 10:18.

honest] Rather, what is noble, right.

though we be as reprobates] St Paul carries his self-denial a step further. Even if he were regarded as rejected himself, his object would be attained, and he would be quite satisfied, if the Corinthians did what was right in the sight of God. It was for what they did, not for what they thought of him, that he labored.2 Corinthians 13:7. Εὔχομαι) The same verb occurs with the accusative and infinitive, Acts 26:29.—μὴ ποιῆσαι ὑμᾶς κακὸν μηδὲν, that ye do no evil) The Vulgate has thus correctly translated it. For there follows, that you may do good. Grotius interprets it, that I may not be forced to inflict evil, punishment, on any one. But in this way the antithesis just noticed is lost. ποιεῖν has the accusative of the person, but Paul says, ποιεῖν πρός τινα, εἰς τινα.—οὐχ ἵνα, not that) δόκιμοι, approved) by restraining you when you do evil.—ὡς ἀδόκιμοι, as reprobate) no cause being given to us for exercising authority: ὡς, as if, softens the expression.Verse 7. - Approved (dokimoi). The opposite of "reprobates." Though we be as reprobates; rather, [I pray] that ye may do what is excellent, and that we may be as reprobates. This is one of the intense expressions which, like Romans 9:3, spring from the earnest and passionate unselfishness of St. Paul. His anxiety is for them, not at all for himself. As reprobates; i.e. in the judgment of men (comp. Romans 9:3). Not that we should appear approved, etc.

The sense of the verse is this: We pray God that you do no evil, not in order that your good conduct may attest the excellence of our teaching and example, so that we shall be approved; but in order that you may do what is good, thus rendering it impossible for us to prove our apostolic authority by administering discipline. In that case we shall be as men unapproved. Stanley remarks that, in the light of this verse, Paul might have added to 2 Corinthians 6:9, as without proof and yet as aprroved.

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