2 Corinthians 2:6
Sufficient to such a man is this punishment, which was inflicted of many.
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(6) Sufficient to such a man is this punishment.—Better, perhaps, this censure, or rebuke: the Greek word epitimia being different from those in Matthew 25:46, and in Hebrews 10:29. It is natural to infer that this was somewhat after the pattern of the course marked out in 1Corinthians 5:3-5. A meeting of the Church had been held, and the man delivered to Satan. Possibly this was followed by some suffering of body, supernaturally inflicted, or coming as the natural consequence (not less divine because natural) of remorse and shame. It was almost certainly followed by ex-communication and exclusion from religious and social fellowship. St. Paul had clearly heard what it had been, and thought that it had been enough.

Which was inflicted of many.—Actually, by the majority. The decision, then, had not been unanimous. The minority may have been either members of the Judaising “Cephas “party, resenting what they would look upon as St. Paul’s dictation, and perhaps falling back on the Jewish casuistry, which taught that all the natural relationships of a proselyte were cancelled by his conversion; or the party of license, against whom the Apostle reasons in 1 Corinthians 6-8, and who boasted of their freedom. The Passover argument and the form of the sentence in 1 Corinthians 5 alike suggest the idea that the offender and those who defended him were Jews. On the other hand, see Note on 2Corinthians 7:12.

2 Corinthians 2:6-11. Sufficient to such a man — With what remarkable tenderness does the apostle treat this offender! He never once mentions his name, nor does he here so much as mention his crime; but speaks of him in the most indefinite manner that was consistent with giving such directions in his case as love required; is this punishment, inflicted by many — Not only by the rulers of the church, the whole congregation acquiesced in the sentence. So that contrariwise — Instead of proceeding further against him; ye ought rather to forgive him — To release him from the censure, and receive him again into the church; and comfort him — This penitent sinner; lest he should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow — Driven to despair by the excessive grief which the continuance of your sentence might occasion. Wherefore confirm your love toward him — Assure him of your love by receiving him into your favour, and by all offices of kindness. For to this end did I write — Both in my former epistle that you would censure him, and now that you would release him; that I might know the proof of you — That I might have experience of you; whether ye would be obedient in all things — To my apostolical instructions and decisions; to whom ye forgive — He makes no question of their complying with his direction; any thing — So mildly does he speak of that heinous sin after it was repented of; I forgive also — I also shall be ready to forgive it; if I forgave — If heretofore I alone received any to mercy; for your sakes I forgave it — To show you an example of lenity as well as severity; in the person of Christ — In his name, and by the authority wherewith he has invested me. “St. Paul’s conduct in this affair is worthy of the imitation of the ministers of the gospel. They are to do nothing to grieve their people, unless love require it for their good. And when they are obliged to have recourse to the wholesome discipline which Christ hath instituted in his church, they ought to exercise it, not from resentment, but from a tender regard to the spiritual welfare of the offender. And when he is reclaimed by the censures of the church, they ought, with joy, to restore him to the communion of the faithful, remembering that Satan is ever watchful to turn the hopes and fears, the joys and sorrows of Christians, into an occasion of their ruin.” — Macknight. Lest Satan — To whom he had been delivered, and who sought to destroy, not only his flesh, but his soul also; should get an advantage of us — If the punishment of him be carried to any excess; and should turn that severity into an occasion of mischief to the offender, to his brethren, and to others, either by driving any to despair by too much rigour, or drawing any to profaneness by too much lenity: for the loss of one soul is a common loss. And we are not ignorant of his devices — And of the great variety of stratagems which he is continually making use of to injure us, and turn even discipline itself to the reproach of the church, and the destruction of souls.

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.Sufficient to such a man - The incestuous person who had been by Paul's direction removed from the church. The object of Paul here is to have him again restored. For that purpose he says that the punishment which they had inflicted on him was "sufficient." It was:

(1) A sufficient expression of the evil of the offence, and of the readiness of the church to preserve itself pure; and,

(2) It was a sufficient punishment to the offender.

It had accomplished all that he had desired. It had humbled him, and brought him to repentance; and doubtless led him to put away his "wife"; compare note, 1 Corinthians 5:1. As that had been done, it was proper now that he should be again restored to the privileges of the church. No evil would result from such a restoration, and their duty to their penitent brother demanded it. Mr. Locke has remarked that Paul conducts this subject here with very great tenderness and delicacy. The entire passage from 2 Corinthians 2:5 to 2 Corinthians 2:10 relates solely to this offending brother, yet he never once mentions his name, nor does he mention his crime. He speaks of him only in the soft terms of "such a one" and "any one:" nor does he use an epithet which would be calculated to wound his feelings, or to transmit his name to posterity, or to communicate it to other churches. So that though this Epistle should be read, as Paul doubtless intended, by other churches, and be transmitted to future times, yet no one would ever be acquainted with the name of the individual. How different this from the temper of those who would emblazon abroad the names of offenders, or make a permanent record to carry them down with dishonor to posterity?

Which was inflicted of many - By the church in its collective capacity; see the note on 1 Corinthians 5:4. Paul had required the church to administer this act of discipline, and they had promptly done it. It is evident that the whole church was concerned in the administration of the act of discipline; as the words "of many" (ἀπὸ τῶν πλείονων apo tōn pleionōn are not applicable either to a single" bishop, or a single minister, or a presbytery, or a bench of elders: nor can they be so regarded, except by a forced and unnatural construction. Paul had directed it to be done by the assembled church 1 Corinthians 5:4, and this phrase shows that they had followed his instructions. Locke supposes that the phrase means, "by the majority;" Macknight renders it, "by the greater number;" Bloomfield supposes that it means that the "punishment was carried into effect by all." Doddridge paraphrases it, "by the whole body of your society." The expression proves beyond a doubt that the whole body of the society was concerned in the act of the excommunication, and that is a proper way of administering discipline. Whether it proves, however, that that is the mode which is to be observed in all instances, may admit of a doubt, as the example of the early churches, in a particular case, does not prove that that mode has the force of a binding rule on all.

(It cannot fairly be argued from this verse, that the "many" or the whole congregation, were judicially concerned in the act of excommunication; yet as their concurrence was essential, in order to carry the sentence into effect, it was "inflicted of many" in a most emphatic sense. The refusal, on the part of the members of the church, to have any more social contact with the incestuous man, carried into effect what the apostle had judicially pronounced. See the supplementary note on 1 Corinthians 5:4.)

6. Sufficient—without increasing it, which would only drive him to despair (2Co 2:7), whereas the object of the punishment was, "that (his) spirit might be saved" in the last day.

to such a man—a milder designation of the offender than if he had been named [Meyer]. Rather, it expresses estrangement from such a one who had caused such grief to the Church, and scandal to religion (Ac 22:22; 1Co 5:5).

this punishment—His being "delivered to Satan for the destruction of the flesh"; not only excommunication, but bodily disease (see on [2306]1Co 5:4, 5).

inflicted of many—rather, "by the majority" (the more part of you). Not by an individual priest, as in the Church of Rome, nor by the bishops and clergy alone, but by the whole body of the Church.

This verse maketh it clear, that by any, 2 Corinthians 2:5, he means the incestuous person, mentioned in 1 Corinthians 5:1-13, whom he had ordered to be cast out, and delivered to Satan; which (as appeareth from this verse) they had done, which is the punishment mentioned in this verse. They who think, that the punishment here mentioned was not excommunication, but another being delivered to Satan, and vexed by him:

1. Beg a grave question, viz. Whether delivering to Satan in this place signifieth any more than a casting of the person out of Christ’s kingdom on earth, (which is his church), and making him one of the world again, of which Satan is the god?

2. They seem not to consider, that if this church had delivered him to Satan, they could have done no more: so as the apostle would not have said:

Sufficient is this punishment, when it was the greatest that they could inflict.

Some object, that it is not probable that the apostle (had he been cast out of the communion of the church, for so notorious a crime) would have given order for his being restored in so short a time, as was that between his writing the First and this his Second Epistle.

1. Some think, that he was as yet only under a suspension, and the church had not proceeded to excommunication: this opinion is favoured by the Greek word here used, which is epitimia, the gentlest of all the words in use in that language to express punishment by.

2. Though in the times following the apostles’, a longer time was set after excommunication, for testifying the repentance of sinners notoriously scandalous, before the church did again admit them into her fellowship: yet that it was so in the apostles’ time, is more than appears. Possibly it might be so ordered afterwards, when, as the church multiplied, so sin more abounded; and they might, from many experiences of relapses, be quickened to make such orders.

3. The gift of discerning spirits was more usual in the apostles’ times than afterward; so that though in following times, when the apostles were dead, and the extraordinary gift of discerning spirits was failed or abeted, the church being not able any other way to judge of the truth of sinners’ repentance, than from their changed life and conversation, which asked time, might set a longer time for suck penitents; yet there might not be the same reason for the apostles doing it.

4. Notwithstanding any thing that appears, there might be the distance of a year or two between Paul’s writing these two Epistles.

Which was inflicted of many: who these many were, by whom the apostle saith this punishment was inflicted, is a little disputed; whether the presbytery, or the community. Their opinion seemeth (to me) best, who think that the officers of the church of Corinth heard and judged of matters of faith, and reported it to the community; but he was not cast out without the consent and approbation of the community.

Sufficient to such a man is this punishment,.... By this punishment is meant, the excommunication of the incestuous person, or the censure that was laid upon him by the church: for this

was inflicted by many; not by the pastor only, or by the elders or more eminent persons in the church, but by the multitude, by the whole congregation, at least , "by the more"; the greater, or major part; and not by one, or a few only: in inflicting this punishment, or laying on this censure in the public manner they did, they were certainly right, and to be commended; but inasmuch as there appeared signs of true repentance, it was sufficient, it had answered the purpose for which it was inflicted, and therefore it was high time to remove it: from whence we learn, that in case of gross enormities, there ought to be a public excommunication; and that this is to be done by the vote, and with the consent of the whole church, or the major part of it; and that in process of time, when the person thus dealt with has given the church satisfaction as to the truth and genuineness of his repentance, the censure ought to be taken off and he be cordially received into the communion of the church again. This "punishment", or "rebuke", "by many", is the same which the Jews call (e) , "a reproof by many"; which is given by many, or in the presence of many.

(e) R. Eliahu in Adderet, c. 3. apud Trigland. de Sect. Karaeorum, p. 166.

Sufficient to such a man is this punishment, which was inflicted of many.
2 Corinthians 2:6. Ἱκανόν] something sufficient is, etc. Regarding this substantive use of the neuter of the predicate adjective, see Matthiae, p. 982; Kühner, II. p. 45. Comp. Matthew 6:34.

τῷ τοιούτῳ] for one of such a nature; how forbearing it is here that no more definite designation is given!

ἡ ἐπιτιμια αὕτη] this punishment. What it was, every reader knew. Comp. on 2 Corinthians 2:3. ἡ ἐπιτιμία (which in classic writers denotes the franchise of a citizen, Demosthenes, 230, 10, al.), in the signification poena, like the Greek τὸ ἐπιτίμιον (Dem. 915, 1; 939, 27, al.), ἡ ἐπιτίμησις (Wis 12:26), and τὸ ἐπιτίμημα (Inscript.), occurs only here in the N. T., but elsewhere also in Wis 3:10, in ecclesiastical writers, and in acts of councils (not in Philo). It is not merely objurgatio (Vulgate; comp. Beza, Calvin, and others).

ἡ ὑπὸ τῶν πλειόνων] which by the majority (of the church) has been assigned to him. That the presbyterium is not meant (Augustine, Beza, Grotius, Valesius, and others), is shown by the article. There is a further question here, whether the excommunication enjoined by Paul, 5, was carried out or not (Beza, Calvin, Morus, Rückert, Hofmann). Most assume the former, so that they refer ἱκανόν to the sufficient duration of the excommunication.[141] But an accomplished full excommunication is not to be assumed on account of the very ὑπὸ τῶν πλειόνων; but it is probable that the majority of the church members, in consequence of the ἘΞΆΡΑΤΕ ΤῸΝ ΠΟΝΗΡΌΝ (1 Corinthians 5:13; comp. 2 Corinthians 2:2), had considered the sinner as one excommunicated, and had given up all fellowship with him. By this the majority had for the present sufficiently complied with the expressed will of the apostle. To the minority there may have belonged partly the most lax in morals, and partly also opponents of the apostle, the latter resisting him on principle.

Rückert, however, supported by Baur and Räbiger, regards Paul’s judgment ἹΚΑΝῸΝ Κ.Τ.Λ., as a prudent turn given to the matter, by which, in order to avoid an open rupture, he represents what would have happened even without his will to be his own wish. But what justifies any one in attributing to him conduct so untruthful? The real and great repentance of the sinner (2 Corinthians 2:7) induced the apostle to overlook the incompleteness in carrying out his orders for excommunication, and now from real sincere conviction to pronounce the ἱκανόν and desire his pardon. Comp. above on 2 Corinthians 2:5-11. Had Paul not been really convinced that the repentance of the evil-doer had already begun (as even Lipsius, Rechtfertigungsl. p. 183, is inclined to suppose), he would here have pursued a policy of church-discipline quite at variance with his character. Calvin judges very rightly of this passage: “Locus diligenter observandus; docet enim, qua aequitate et clementia temperanda sit disciplina ecclesiae, ne rigor modum excedat. Severitate opus est, ne impunitate (quae peccandi illecebra merito vocatur) mali reddantur audaciores; sed rursus, quia periculum est, ne is qui castigatur animum despondeat, hic adhibenda est moderatio, nempe ut ecclesia, simulatque resipiscentiam illius certo cognoverit, ad dandam veniam sit parata.”

[141] Most strange is the judgment of Grotius, that the apostle is here speaking not de restituenda communione, but de auferendo morbo, quem ei Satanas ad preces piorum Corinthiorum immiserat. Paul had, in fact, not really ordained the giving over to Satan at all. See on 1 Corinthians 5:5.

2 Corinthians 2:6. ἱκανὸν τῷ τοιούτῳ κ.τ.λ.: sufficient to such an one (the word used in 1 Corinthians 5:5 to indicate the offender) is this punishment (which was inflicted) by the majority. The directions given by the Apostle for dealing with the offender had probably been carried out with harshness and severity; he now suggests that the punishment might be remitted, and the guilty man forgiven. ἐπιτιμία in the Attic orators is used for “the possession of political rights,” but it came to mean (see reff.) penalty or requital; the punishment (see 1 Corinthians 5:5) would seem to have been of a disciplinary, and not merely punitive, character; it was probably like the formal excommunication of a later age (cf. also 1 Timothy 1:20), and involved the exclusion of the guilty person from the privileges of the Christian Society. That it was inflicted only by “the majority” (for so we must translate τῶν πλειόνων; see reff.) is sufficiently accounted for by remembering the presence of an anti-Pauline party at Corinth, who would not be likely to follow the Apostle’s instructions. The construction ἱκανὸνἡ ἐπιτιμία (ἐστι, rather than ἔστω, is the verb to be supplied) affords an instance of a neuter adjectival predicate set over against a feminine subject (cf. Matthew 6:34); ἱκανὸν seems to be used here like the Latin satis.

6. Sufficient to such a man is this punishment] See note on 1 Corinthians 5:3-5. The discipline of the Apostolic Church, which had as its main object the restoration of the offender, was content when this object was attained. As soon as the offender renounced his sin, the end of the discipline was reached, and there was no further need of punishment. It was no desire of the Church in the Apostle’s times, however much that important principle may have been lost sight of afterwards, that the offender should be ‘swallowed up with overmuch sorrow.’ “A plan diligently to be observed, for it teaches with what equity and clemency the discipline of the Church should be tempered, lest its rigour should exceed proper bounds.” Calvin.

punishment] (Blamynge, Wiclif.) The word in the original signifies rebuke as well as punishment. Perhaps here it partakes of both senses. The public rebuke, coupled with separation from the Christian community and formal delivery over to Satan which St Paul prescribed (1 Corinthians 5:5), was itself a severe punishment.

which was inflicted of many] Literally, by the majority. Some, perhaps, may have declined to take part in it, for there were many, as the latter part of the Epistle plainly shews, who still refused to acknowledge St Paul’s authority.

2 Corinthians 2:6. Ἱκανὸν) Neuter, in place of a substantive; it is sufficient for such a one, so that no more can be demanded of him: ἱκανὸν, a forensic term. It is the part of Christian prudence to maintain moderation. A considerably long time intervened between the writing of the two epistles.—ἐπιτιμία, reproof) In antithesis to forgive, as also, to comfort, 2 Corinthians 2:7.—τῶν πλειόνων, by many) not merely by those, who ruled [the bishops and ministers.] The Church at large bears the keys.

Verse 6. - Sufficient to such a man is this punishment. What the punishment was we do not know, but of course the Corinthians knew that what St. Paul had directed them to do was to summon the Church together, and there,by excommunicating the man, "to hand him over to Satan." But this handing over to Satan was, as we have seen, designed solely for a merciful purpose, and to awaken his repentance, so as to secure his ultimate salvation (1 Corinthians 5:4, 5). Whether the Corinthians had done exactly as St. Paul bade them is uncertain; but whatever they had done is here acquiesced in by St. Paul, and even if (as we may suspect) they had dealt more leniently with the offender than he originally intended, he here not only refrains from urging them to use greater severity, but even exhorts them to a still more absolute condonation. St. Paul's object had not been that they should take a particular course of action, but that they should bring about a desired result. The result had been achieved, and now the matter might rest. To such a man. St. Paul mercifully abstains from recording his name or from thrusting him into unnecessary prominence before the assembly in which the letter would be read. The apostle evidently entered into the Jewish feeling that there is a criminal cruelty in needlessly calling a blush of shame into a brother's face. This punishment. The word epitimia, which occurs here only in the New Testament, but is also found in Wisd. 3:10, means "punishment," as in later Greek, and is not used in its classical sense of "rebuke" (Vulgate, objurgatio); but the mildness of the word, perhaps, implies that the Corinthians had not resorted to the severest measures. Which was inflicted of many; rather, by the majority. The verb is expressed in the original, and St. Paul seems to allude to the steps taken, whatever they were, with a certain dignified reticence. It is obvious that there were still some opponents of St. Paul in the Church, who retained in this matter their "inflated" sentiments of spurious independence; and this may, perhaps, have driven others into too rigid an attitude of severity. 2 Corinthians 2:6Many (τῶν πλειόνων)

Rev., correctly, the many: the majority of the Church.

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