2 Corinthians 2:3
And I wrote this same unto you, lest, when I came, I should have sorrow from them of whom I ought to rejoice; having confidence in you all, that my joy is the joy of you all.
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(3) And I wrote this same unto you.—Here, again, we have to read between the lines. The pronoun, which does not refer to anything that has been actually said, shows with what definiteness certain passages in his first letter were stamped upon his memory. The question might be asked, “Why had he written so sharply?” And he makes answer to himself that the result had been what he had intended: that his motive in so writing as to give pain had been to avoid giving and receiving pain when he came in person. He wanted his visit to be one of unmixed joy for himself, and if so, it could not fail, looking to their mutual sympathy, to give his disciples joy also.

2:1-4 The apostle desired to have a cheerful meeting with them; and he had written in confidence of their doing what was to their benefit and his comfort; and that therefore they would be glad to remove every cause of disquiet from him. We should always give pain unwillingly, even when duty requires that it must be given.And I wrote this same unto you - The words "this same" (τοῦτο αὐτὸ (touto auto) refer to what he had written to them in the former Epistle, particularly to what he had written in regard to the incestuous person, requiring them to excommunicate him. Probably the expression also includes the commands in his former Epistle to reform their conduct in general, and to put away the abuses and evil practices which prevailed in the church there.

Lest when I came ... - Lest I should be obliged if I came personally to exercise the severity of discipline, and thus to diffuse sorrow throughout the entire church.

I should have sorrow from them of whom I ought to rejoice - Lest I should have grief in the church. Lest the conduct of the church, and the abuses which prevail in it should give me sorrow. I should be grieved with the existence of these evils; and I should be obliged to resort to measures which would be painful to me, and to the whole church. Paul sought to avoid this by persuading them before he came to exercise the discipline themselves, and to put away the evil practices which prevailed among them.

Having confidence in you all - Having confidence that this is your general character, that whatever adds to my joy, or promotes my happiness, would give joy to you all. Paul had enemies in Corinth; he knew that there were some there whose minds were alienated from him, and who were endeavoring to do him injury. Yet he did not doubt that it was the general character of the church that they wished him well, and would desire to make him happy; that what would tend to promote his happiness would also promote theirs; and therefore, that they would be willing to do anything that would make his visit agreeable to him when he came among them. He was, therefore, persuaded that if he wrote them an affectionate letter, they would listen to his injunctions, that thus all that was painful might be avoided when he came among them.

3. I wrote this same unto you—namely, that I would not come to you then (2Co 2:1), as, if I were to come then, it would have to be "in heaviness" (causing sorrow both to him and them, owing to their impenitent state). He refers to the first Epistle (compare 1Co 16:7; compare 1Co 4:19, 21; 5:2-7, 13).

sorrow from them of whom I ought to rejoice—that is, sorrow from their impenitence, when he ought, on the contrary, to have joy from their penitent obedience. The latter happy effect was produced by his first Epistle, whereas the former would have been the result, had he then visited them as he had originally proposed.

having confidence … that my joy is the joy of you all—trusting that you, too, would feel that there was sufficient reason for the postponement, if it interfered with our mutual joy [Alford]. The communion of saints, he feels confident in them "ALL" (his charity overlooking, for the moment the small section of his detractors at Corinth, 1Co 13:7), will make his joy (2Co 2:2) their joy.

This hath been the cause of my writing this Second Epistle to you, before I myself came in person, that you might have a time more fully and perfectly to reform such things as are amiss amongst you, and I have formerly given you notice of; lest when I come, instead of rejoicing in you, as I ought to do, or having any just occasion so to do, I might meet with what would give me nothing but trouble and sadness; which would not only be grievous to me, but would be contrary to your duty, for

I ought to rejoice in you, and you ought so to behave yourselves, that I may have cause to rejoice in you. And I have confidence in the most of you, or in all you who are sincere, that you would all be glad to see me glad and cheerful, rejoicing in my society with you.

And I wrote this same unto you,.... Not what he had written in the preceding verse, or in 2 Corinthians 1:23, where he says, that his not coming to them as yet was to spare them; but what he had written to them in his former epistle, concerning the excommunication of the incestuous man, which had so much grieved both him and them; and this the apostle chose rather to order by writing, than in person; hoping to hear of their repentance and amendment, before he came among them:

lest, says he,

when I came, or should come,

I should have sorrow from them of whom I ought to rejoice; some copies and the Complutensian edition read, "sorrow upon sorrow"; and so does the Vulgate Latin version, which seems to be transcribed from Philippians 2:27, that is, he took this method of sending a reproving letter, in order to bring them to a sense and acknowledgment of sin; lest should he come in person, some would have been a grief and trouble to him, having fallen into sin not repented of; who ought to have been matter of rejoicing to him, as being the seals of his apostleship, and his work in the Lord: and this step he was the more encouraged to take, through the confidence he had of them,

having confidence in you all; being fully persuaded of their affection for him, and opinion of him:

that my joy is the joy of you all; that their joy and grief were mutual and common; that what he rejoiced in, they did likewise; and what was displeasing to him was displeasing to them; and therefore upon the first hint given, he took care to remove the occasion of such displeasure, that their mutual comfort might take place; assuring them, and of which they might be assured, that it was no joy to him to grieve them; he could have none when theirs was gone; his ultimate view in writing to them in the manner he had, was not to grieve, but to bring them to repentance and reformation, which issued in the mutual joy of him and them.

And I wrote this same unto you, lest, when I came, I should have sorrow from them of whom I ought to rejoice; having {b} confidence in you all, that my joy is the joy of you all.

(b) For I trusted that you would immediately take that out of the way which you knew I was discontented with, considering how you are persuaded that my joy is your joy.

2 Corinthians 2:3 appends what Paul had done in consequence of the state of things mentioned in 2 Corinthians 2:1 f.: And I have written (not reserved till I could communicate orally) this very thing, i.e. exactly what I have written, in order not, when I shall have come, to have affliction, et.

ἔγραψα] placed first with emphasis, corresponds to the following ἐλθών, and does not at all refer to the present Epistle (Chrysostom and his followers, Grotius, and others, including Olshausen), against which opinion 2 Corinthians 2:4; 2 Corinthians 2:9 are decisive, but to out first Epistle, the contents of which in reference to this point are rendered present by τοῦτο αὐτό; as indeed οὗτος is used often of what is well known, which is pointed to as if it were lying before one (Kühner, II. p. 325). That Paul is thinking of the passages of censure and rebuke in the first Epistle (especially of chap. 5[139]), results from the context, and suffices for its explanation, so that the reference to a lost letter sent along with Titus (Bleek, Neander, Ewald, Klöpper; see Introd. § 1) is not required. With Theodoret, Erasmus, Morus, Flatt, Rückert, Hofmann,[140] to take τοῦτο αὐτό as in 2 Peter 1:5, for this very reason, cannot in itself be objected to (Bernhardy, p. 130; Kühner, § 549, A. 2; Ast, ad Plat. Leg. p. 214; and see on Galatians 2:10 and on Php 1:6); but here, where Paul has just written in 2 Corinthians 2:1 τοῦτο as the accusative of the object, and afterwards in 2 Corinthians 2:9 expresses the sense for this reason by εἰς τοῦτο, there is no ground for it in the contex.

ἽΝΑ ΜῊ Κ.Τ.Λ.] Since his arrival was at that time still impending, and Paul consequently denotes by ἽΝΑἜΧΩ a purpose still continuing in the present, the subjunctive ἜΧΩ (or ΣΧῶ, as Lachmann, Rückert, and Tischendorf read, following A B א*, Chrysostom, Theophylact, Oecumenius) after the preterite ἜΓΡΑΨΑ is quite accurate (Matthiae, p. 1180); and Rückert is wrong when he takes ἘΛΘΏΝ hypothetically (if I had come), and refers σχῶ to the past. In that case, Paul could not but have used the optative.

ἀφʼ ὧν] ἀπὸ τούτων, ἀφʼ ὧν. See Bornem. Schol. in Luc. p. 2.

, on the part of. Χαίρειν does not elsewhere occur with ἀπό, but εὐφραίνεσθαι is similarly joined with ἀπό, Xen. Hier. iv. 6; Jdt 12:20.

] The imperfect indicates what properly (in the nature of the relation) ought to be, but what, in the case contemplated of the λύπην ἔχω, is not. See Matthiae, p. 1138 f.

] subjective reason assigned for the specified purpose of the ἜΓΡΑΨΑ: since I cherish the confidence towards you all, etc. Paul therefore says that, in order that he might find no affliction when present among them, he has communicated the matter by letter, because he is convinced that they would find their own joy in his joy (which, in the present instance, could not but be produced by the doing away of the existing evils according to the instructions of his letter).

ἐπί] of the direction of the confidence towards the readers. Comp. 2 Thessalonians 3:4; Matthew 27:43; Psalm 124:1. In classical authors usually with the dative, as 2 Corinthians 1:9.

] This, in spite of the anti-Pauline part of the church, is the language of the love which ΠΆΝΤΑ ΠΙΣΤΕΎΕΙ, ΠΆΝΤΑ ἘΛΠΊΖΕΙ, 1 Corinthians 13:7. “Quodsi Pauli opinioni judicioque non respondeant Corinthii, indigne eum frustrantur,” Calvin.

[139] Not merely 1 Corinthians 4:21, wherein the μὴ ἐν λύπῃ ἑλθεῖν is held to be contained (Calovius, Osiander). 1 Corinthians 4:21 was only a casual threat.

[140] Hofmann, in accordance with his interpretation of τοῦτο αὐτό, “for this very reason,” which serves to point to the following ἵνα μὴ κ.τ.λ., thus defines the relation of vv. 1 and 3 : This is what I resolved for myself, that I would not again come to you in sorrow of heart. And this is the very reason why I wrote to you: I did not wish to have sorrow of heart on my arrival, etc. This is what Paul by the composition of his Epistle had wished to obtain for his sojourn, when he should come.

2 Corinthians 2:3. καὶ ἔγραψα τοῦτο αὐτὸ: and I wrote this very thing; i.e., I communicated my change of plan (1 Corinthians 16:5 ff.). So ἔκρινα τοῦτο in 2 Corinthians 2:1. (The translation “just for this reason,” taking τοῦτο αὐτό adverbially, is also admissible; cf. 2 Peter 1:5).—ἵνα μὴ ἐλθὼν λύπην κ.τ.λ.: lest when I came I should have sorrow from them from whom I ought to rejoice. ἀφʼ ὧν is for ἀπ ἐκείνων ἀφʼ ὧν; cf. 1 Peter 2:12; 1 Peter 3:16.—πεποιθὼς ἐπὶ πάντας ὑμᾶς κ.τ.λ.: having confidence in you all, that my joy is the joy of you all; i.e., having confidence in the perfect sympathy between himself and his correspondents. He could only be made glad if they were made glad; and so to visit them for the purpose of rebuking them would be as painful to him as to them. Observe the repeated πάνταςπάντων: despite the factions in Corinth (1 Corinthians 3:4) he must think of them all as his friends (cf. 2 Corinthians 13:13).

3. And I wrote this same unto you] Either (1) the announcement in 1 Corinthians 16:7 of the Apostle’s change of purpose, or (2) the rebukes in the former Epistle that grieved them, especially the passage in ch. 5 of that Epistle which (cf. also 2 Corinthians 2:2; 2 Corinthians 2:5-8 of this chapter) refers to a single person. The former agrees best with the context. In 2 Peter 1:5, however, (3) the words here translated ‘this same’ are translated ‘beside this.’

I should have sorrow from them of whom I ought to rejoice] St Paul hoped by his letter to produce such an effect that those who were blamed in it would abandon their sin. He ought to rejoice in such persons, for his rejoicing is to see them ‘walk worthy of the vocation wherewith they were called’ (Ephesians 4:1; cf. 1 Thessalonians 3:8); and this, by virtue of their union with Christ, they might do if they would. Had he come, instead of writing, they must have caused him sorrow and not joy by the inconsistency of their Christian walk. Cf. ch. 2 Corinthians 12:21.

having confidence in you all, that my joy is the joy of you all] Cf. ch. 2 Corinthians 7:16. The Apostle still keeps in view that on which he had lately insisted, the identity of his feelings, hopes, aspirations with those of the Corinthians in virtue of their common life in Christ (see note on 1 Corinthians 1:9). His joy and theirs is to see the members of the Corinthian community entirely led by the Spirit of Christ (Romans 8:14) and producing the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22) in all their actions. See John 15:11.

2 Corinthians 2:3. Καὶ ἔγραψα, and I wrote) He shows that he had this intention at the time, when he sent his first epistle, in which he had promised a visit, an intention which he explains at 2 Corinthians 2:1.—ἀφʼ ὧν, from whom) as from sons.—ὅτι, that) The joy of Paul itself is desirable not for his own sake, but for the sake of the Corinthians.

Verse 3. - And I wrote this same unto you. And I wrote. He meets the tacit objection. If you shrink from causing us pain, why then did you write to us in terms so severe? The "I wrote" may be what is called the epistolary aorist, and will then be equivalent to our "I write:" "What I write to you now has the very object of sparing you a painful visit." If the aorist has its more ordinary sense, it refers to the First, and not to the present Epistle; and this seems the better view, for the "I wrote" in ver. 9 certainly refers to the First Epistle. This same thing; namely, exactly what I have written (whether in this or in the former Epistle). The words, "this very thing," may also, in the original, menu "for this very reason," as in 2 Peter 1:5, and like the εἰς τοῦτο in ver. 9. Unto you. These words should be omitted, with א, A, B, C. When I came. The emphasis lies in these words. He preferred that his letter, rather than his personal visit, should cause pain. In you all. It is true that in the Corinthian Church St. Paul had bitter and unscrupulous opponents, but he will not believe even that they desired his personal unhappiness. At any rate, if there were any such, he will net believe that they exist, since "love believeth all things, hopeth all things" (1 Corinthians 13:7). 2 Corinthians 2:3
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