2 Corinthians 2:11
Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(11) Lest Satan should get an advantage of us.—Literally, lest we should be cheated (or out-maneuvered) by Satan. The phraseology is that of one who is, as it were, playing a game against the Tempter, in which the souls of men are at once the counters and the stake. The Apostle’s last move in that game had been to “give the sinner over to Satan” with a view to his ultimate deliverance. But what if Satan should outwit him, by tempting the sinner to despair or recklessness? To guard against that danger required, as it were, another move. Stratagem must be met by strategy. The man must be absolved that he may be able to resist the Tempter.

We are not ignorant of his devices.—The language comes from a wide and varied experience. St. Paul had been buffeted by a messenger of Satan (2Corinthians 12:7); had once and again been hindered by him in his work (1Thessalonians 2:18); was ever wrestling, not with flesh and blood, but with principalities and powers (Ephesians 6:12); and so he knew how the Tempter could turn even the rules of an ascetic rigour, or the remorse of a sin-burdened conscience, into an occasion of yet further and more irremediable sin.

2:5-11 The apostle desires them to receive the person who had done wrong, again into their communion; for he was aware of his fault, and much afflicted under his punishment. Even sorrow for sin should not unfit for other duties, and drive to despair. Not only was there danger last Satan should get advantage, by tempting the penitent to hard thoughts of God and religion, and so drive him to despair; but against the churches and the ministers of Christ, by bringing an evil report upon Christians as unforgiving; thus making divisions, and hindering the success of the ministry. In this, as in other things, wisdom is to be used, that the ministry may not be blamed for indulging sin on the one hand, or for too great severity towards sinners on the other hand. Satan has many plans to deceive, and knows how to make a bad use of our mistakes.Lest Satan - The devil. The name Satan denotes an adversary, an accuser, an enemy. It is the usual proper name which is given to the devil, the great adversary of God and man.

Should get an advantage of us - The literal translation of the Greek would be, "That we may not be defrauded by Satan." (Ἵνα μὴ πλεονεκτηθῶμεν ὑπὸ τοῦ Σατανᾶ Hina mē pleonektēthōmen hupo Satana). The verb used here denotes to have more than another; then to gain, to take advantage of one, to defraud. And the idea is, that they should at once re-admit the penitent offender to their communion, lest if they did not do it, Satan would take advantage of it to do injury to him and them. It is a reason given by Paul why they should lose no time in restoring him to the church. What the advantage was which Satan might gain, Paul does not specify. It might be this: That under pretence of duty, and seeking the purity of the church, Satan would tempt them to harsh measures; to needless severity of discipline; to an unkind and unforgiving spirit; and thus, at the same time, injure the cause of religion, and ruin him who had been the subject of discipline.

For we are not ignorant of his devices - We know his plans, his thoughts, his cunning, his skill. We are not ignorant of the great number of stratagems which he is constantly using to injure us, and to destroy the souls of people. He is full of wiles; and Paul had had abundant occasion to be acquainted with the means which he had used to defeat his plans and to destroy the church. The church, at all times, has been subjected to the influence of those wiles, as well as individual Christians. And the church, therefore, as well as individual Christians, should be constantly on its guard against those snares. Even the best and purest efforts of the church are often perverted, as in the case of administering discipline, to the worst results; and by the imprudence and lack of wisdom; by the rashness or overheated zeal; by the pretensions to great purity and love of truth; and by a harsh, severe, and censorious spirit, Satan often takes advantage of the church, and advances his own dark and mischievous designs.

11. Literally, "That we may have no advantage gained over us by Satan," namely, by letting one of our members be lost to us through despair, we ourselves furnishing Satan with the weapon, by our repulsive harshness to one now penitent. The loss of a single sinner is a common loss; therefore, in 2Co 2:10, he said, "for your sakes." Paul had "delivered" the offender "to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the Spirit might be saved" (1Co 5:5). Satan sought to destroy the spirit also: to let him do so, would be to give him an advantage, and let him overreach us.

not ignorant of his devices—"Ignorant" and "devices" are words akin in sound and root in Greek: we are not without knowledge of his knowing schemes.

As I have done it in kindness to you, so I have also done it for the advantage both of that person, who is so forgiven, and of your whole church, which is concerned in the welfare or miscarriage of every individual member.

Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: the Greek is: That we be not overcome by Satan: pleonektein properly signifies to get again, or to gain a superiority, to get the upper hand. The advantage Satan was like to get by their continuing severity to this offender, was either by his over much grief, or by the hardening of his heart; so as he, seeing no probability to be restored again to his communion with the church, should be exposed, either to temptations to some desperate courses, (which are often the effects of minds full of sorrow and discontent), or else to courses of idolatry or looseness, in giving up himself to the devil’s kingdom in the world, because he could not be admitted into the church, which is the kingdom of Christ.

For (saith the apostle) we are not ignorant of his devices, nohmata, his thoughts and counsels, how he continually walketh about both like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour; and like an old serpent, seeking whom and how he may deceive. This lets us know, with how much prudence those who are trusted with the souls of others, ought to manage their reproofs, or severe dealings with others: the end of all these is the amendment and reformation of such persons, not their spiritual ruin and destruction; and all reproofs and censures must be given, and made, and managed with reference to that end. We have not only the concern of God’s glory (which is the main) to be looked at, but the good also of their souls, whom we so reprove, censure, or alienate ourselves from: and indeed, without consulting this, we cannot consult God’s glory; who hath told us, that he desireth not the death of a sinner, but rather that he should turn from his wickedness and live: and therefore we must have an eye about us, and beneath us, to the devil, as well as above us, to God; and prudently judge how such afflictive and harsh actions may be so done by us, that in the mean time Satan get no advantage, and we lose the souls of those with whom we so deal, instead of gaining them to God; which is the main and principal end we ought in all those actions to aim at, 1 Corinthians 5:5; so 1 Timothy 1:20. Lest Satan should get an advantage of us,.... Or make gain of us, or we should be circumvented by him; a metaphor taken from covetous persons, who take every occasion, and make use of every advantage to circumvent and deceive persons in trading with them: Satan gets an advantage of the churches, when church discipline is brought into neglect and contempt, or turned into tyranny; or when he can draw off any person from a church, or keep him out of it: wherefore the apostle's argument is, that since the incestuous person had true repentance for his sin, he ought to be forgiven, comforted, and received into the church; lest by too great severity, and a too long continuance of the censure on him, he should be either plunged into despair, or be drawn into a denial of the faith, or into an open scandalous course of wickedness; and so the church entirely lose a member, that might, by the proper use of discipline, have been an useful one, and Satan gain one:

for we are not ignorant of his devices; and cunning stratagems; some of his crafty contrivances and designs are known, though not all of them; and this particularly, that he sometimes transforms himself into an angel of light, and under pretence of showing a just indignation against sin, and keeping up a strict and righteous discipline, destroys souls, ruins churches, and brings religion into contempt. This was one of his devices in former times, that persons who fell into any gross sin after baptism, and a profession of religion, were never to be restored and received into the communion of the church again, let their repentance be ever so sincere. This cruel and inexorable spirit, under the show of strict religion and discipline, is what the apostle here would caution against, as one of the wiles of Satan.

Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his {i} devices.

(i) Of his mischievous counsel and devilish will.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
2 Corinthians 2:11. Aim of this pardon imparted διʼ ὑμᾶς: that we might not be overreached, etc. A being overreached by Satan, the enemy of Christ and of Christianity, would be the result if that pardon were refused to the sinner, and thereby his καταποθῆναι τῇ περισσοτέρᾳ λύπῃ were brought about; for thereby Satan would get a member of the church into his power, and thus derive advantage to our loss. On the passive πλεονεκτεῖσθαι, comp. Dem. 1035, 26. The subject is Paul and the Corinthian churc.

οὐ γὰρ αὐτοῦ κ.τ.λ.] “By Satan, I say, for his thoughts (what he puts forward as product of his νοῦς; comp. on 2 Corinthians 3:14, 2 Corinthians 4:4, 2 Corinthians 10:5, 2 Corinthians 11:3) are not unknown to us.” νοήματα ἀγνοοῦμεν forms a paronomasia. These thoughts: 1 Peter 5:8; Ephesians 6:11. The discerning of them in the individual case is spiritual prudence, which we have in the possession of the νοῦς of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16).2 Corinthians 2:11. ἵνα μὴ πλεονεκτηθῶμεν κ.τ.λ.: lest we, sc., you and I together, be robbed by Satan; i.e., lest we drive sinners to despair and so let Satan capture them from us. “The offender was to be delivered over τῷ Σατανᾷ εἰς ὄλεθρον τῆς σαρκός (1 Corinthians 5:5)—care must be taken lest we πλεονεκτηθῶμεν ὑπὸ τοῦ Σατανᾶ, and his soul perish likewise” (Alford). Observe that in St. Paul’s writings (except chap. 2 Corinthians 12:7; see reff.) Σατανᾶς takes the article, “the Satan,” the adversary; it has not yet come to be regularly used as a proper name (but cf. Matthew 4:10, Mark 3:23).—οὐ γὰρ αὐτοῦ κ.τ.λ.: for we are not ignorant of his devices. νόημα (see reff.) is generally (always in this Ep.) used in a bad sense, of the thoughts of man’s unregenerate heart. Here τὰ νοήματα are the designs of the adversary of souls.11. Lest Satan should get an advantage of us] See note on 1 Corinthians 5:10. The word signifies (1) to have more, (2) to be greedy, and hence (3) to overreach, to defraud.

devices] The word properly means mental processes, “the product of mind.” Meyer. It is translated minds in ch. 2 Corinthians 3:14, 2 Corinthians 4:4, 2 Corinthians 11:3; Php 4:7, thought in ch. 2 Corinthians 10:5. In reference to Satan, all whose thoughts are evil, it may legitimately be translated devices, i e. things which he devised. Luke 22:31. 1 Corinthians 7:5. Cf. 1 Peter 5:8. Revelation 12:12. St Paul’s meaning here is that to refuse forgiveness when the time for it had come would be only to give Satan an advantage. The offender had been delivered over to him (see 1 Corinthians 5:5 and notes). Not to release him from the bondage when he was truly repentant would be to afford the enemy of souls an opportunity of which he would not be slow to avail himself. Nothing is so likely to plunge a man into every kind of crime as despair. See notes on 2 Corinthians 2:7.2 Corinthians 2:11. Οὐ γὰρ, for not) True ecclesiastical prudence. Those who have the mind [referring to νοῦς contained in νοήματα] of Christ are not ignorant of hostile devices and attempts. νοήματα and ἀγνοεῖν are conjugates.Verse 11. - Lest Satan should get an advantage over us; literally, lest we should be overreached by Satan, which would have been the case if our severity had resulted in the desperation of the offender, and not in his deliverance (comp. 1 Corinthians 5:5). We are not ignorant of his devices. So too in Ephesians 6:11 we are told of the "crafty wiles of the devil." Lest Satan should get an advantage of us (ἵνα μὴ πλεονεκτηθῶμεν ὑπὸ τοῦ Σατανᾶ)

Lit., in order that we be not made gain of, or overreached, by Satan. Rev., that no advantage may be gained over us. The verb, from πλέον more, and ἔχω to have, appears in the noun πλεονεξία greed of gain, covetousness. See on Romans 1:29.

Are ignorant - devices (ἀγνοοῦμεν - νοήματα)

A paronomasia (see on Romans 1:29-31). As nearly as possible, "not know his knowing plots."

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