2 Corinthians 5:12
For we commend not ourselves again unto you, but give you occasion to glory on our behalf, that ye may have somewhat to answer them which glory in appearance, and not in heart.
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(12) For we commend not ourselves again unto you.—The better MSS. omit “For,” which may have been inserted for the sake of an apparent sequence of thought. In reality, however, what follows is more intelligible without it. He has scarcely uttered the words that precede this sentence when the poison of the barbed arrow of the sneer to which he had referred in 2Corinthians 3:1 again stings him. He hears his enemies saying, “So he is commending himself again;” and these words are the answer to that taunt. “No,” he says, “it is not so, but in appealing to the witness of the work done in your consciences we give you an ‘occasion’ (or starting-point) of a boast which we take for granted that you, the great body of the Church of Corinth, will be ready to make for us.”

That ye may have somewhat to answer.—The opponents, of whom we are to hear more hereafter (see Notes on 2Corinthians 10:7-18; 2Corinthians 11:12-33), rise up once more in his thoughts. “That such as these should be boasting of their work and their success!” What did they glory in? In appearance. The words may apply to anything external—claims of authority, training, knowledge, and the like. The use of the word, however, in 2Corinthians 10:1 seems to imply a more definite meaning. Men contrasted what we should call the dignified “presence” of his rivals with his personal defects, the weakness of his body, the lowness of his stature. “Take your stand,” he seems to say, “against that boast, on the work done by us in your consciences.”

5:9-15 The apostle quickens himself and others to acts of duty. Well-grounded hopes of heaven will not encourage sloth and sinful security. Let all consider the judgment to come, which is called, The terror of the Lord. Knowing what terrible vengeance the Lord would execute upon the workers of iniquity, the apostle and his brethren used every argument and persuasion, to lead men to believe in the Lord Jesus, and to act as his disciples. Their zeal and diligence were for the glory of God and the good of the church. Christ's love to us will have a like effect upon us, if duly considered and rightly judged. All were lost and undone, dead and ruined, slaves to sin, having no power to deliver themselves, and must have remained thus miserable for ever, if Christ had not died. We should not make ourselves, but Christ, the end of our living and actions. A Christian's life should be devoted to Christ. Alas, how many show the worthlessness of their professed faith and love, by living to themselves and to the world!For we commend not ourselves again unto you - This refers to what he had said in the previous verse. He had there said that he had such a consciousness of integrity that he could appeal to God, and that he was persuaded that the Corinthians also approved his course, or admitted that he was influenced by right motives. He here states the reason why he had said this. It was not to commend himself to them. It was not to boast of his own character, nor was it in order to secure their praise or favor. Some might be disposed to misrepresent all that Paul said of himself, and to suppose that it was said for mere vain-glory, or the love of praise. He tells them, therefore, that his sole aim was necessary self-defense, and in order that they might have the fullest evidence that he, by whom they had been converted, was a true apostle; and that he whom they regarded as their friend and father in the gospel was a man of whom they need not be ashamed.

But give you occasion - This is a very happy turn of expression. The sense is, "You have been converted under my labors. You profess to regard me as your spiritual father and friend. I have no reason to doubt of your attachment to me. Yet you often hear my name slandered, and hear me accused of wanting the evidence of being an apostle, and of being vain-glorious, and self-seeking. I know your desire to vindicate my character, and to show that you are my friends. I, therefore, say these things in regard to myself in order that you may be thus able to show your respect for me, and to vindicate me from the false and slanderous accusations of my enemies. Thus doing, you will be able to answer them; to show that the man whom you thus respect is worthy of your confidence and esteem."

On your behalf - For your own benefit, or as it were in self-vindication for adhering to me, and evincing attachment to me.

That ye may have somewhat to answer them - That you may be furnished with a ready reply when you are charged with adhering to a man who has no claims to the apostleship, or who is slandered in any other way.

Which glory in appearance - The false teachers in Corinth. Probably they boasted of their rank, their eloquence, their talents, their external advantages; but not in the qualities of the heart - in sincerity, honesty, real love for souls. Their consciences would not allow them to do this; and they knew themselves that their boasting was mere vain pretence, and that there was no real and solid ground for it. The margin is, "in the face." The meaning is, probably, that their ground of boasting was external, and was such as can be seen of people, and was not rather the secret consciousness of right, which could exist only in the conscience and the heart. Paul, on the other hand, gloried mainly in his sincerity, his honesty, his desire for their salvation; in his conscious integrity before God; and not in any mere external advantages or professions, in his rank, eloquence, or talent. Accordingly, all his argument here turns on his sincerity, his conscious uprightness, and his real regard for their welfare. And the truth taught here is, that sincerity and conscious integrity are more valuable than any or all external advantages and endowments.

12. For—the reason why he leaves the manifestation of his sincerity in preaching to their consciences (2Co 3:1), namely, his not wishing to "commend" himself again.

occasion to glory—(2Co 1:14), namely, as to our sincerity.

in appearance—Greek, "face" (compare 1Sa 16:7). The false teachers gloried in their outward appearance, and in external recommendations (2Co 11:18) their learning, eloquence, wisdom, riches, not in vital religion in their heart. Their conscience does not attest their inward sincerity, as mine does (2Co 1:12).

I do not speak this to commend myself unto you; he had before declared, that he trusted that he was made manifest to their consciences, and so needed not further to commend himself. But (saith he) I speak it only

to give you occasion to glory, to glory in me as the apostle of Christ unto you, or to defend me against the scandals and reproaches of those that reproach me, when themselves have no true inward cause of glorying, though they have in outward appearance, in respect of their riches, wit, wisdom, or the like.

For we commend not ourselves again to you,.... We have no need to do so, being well known to you; nor do we intend it when we thus speak of ourselves, and of our ministrations:

but give you occasion to glory on our behalf; suggest some things to you which you may make use of in our favour, for the vindicating of our characters and conduct:

that you may have somewhat to answer them which glory in appearance, and not in heart; by whom are meant the false apostles who gloried in an outward show, in their learning, eloquence, and popular applause they had acquired, and not in the sincerity of their hearts, and the testimony of a good conscience, things which the true apostles of Christ were most ambitious of.

{6} For we commend not ourselves again unto you, but give you occasion to glory on our behalf, that ye may have somewhat to answer them which glory in {k} appearance, and not in heart.

(6) He removes all suspicion of pride by a new reason, because it is a responsibility, not for his part but for theirs, that his apostleship be considered sincere compared to the vain display of a few others.

(k) In outward disguising, and that pretentious show of man's wisdom and eloquence, and not in true godliness, which is sealed in the heart.

2 Corinthians 5:12. Οὐ πάλιν ἑαυτ. συνιστ.] See on 2 Corinthians 3:1. The ἑαυτούς (not again self-praise do we practise) does not stand in contrast with the ὑμῖν following after διδ. (Fritzsche, Osiander), because otherwise ὑμῖν must have stood immediately after ἀλλά.

ἀλλὰ ἀφορμ. διδόντες κ.τ.λ.] We should not, with Beza and Flatt, supply ἐσμέν, but λέγομεν ταῦτα, which flows from the previous ἑαυτ. συνιστ … See Matthiae, p. 1534; Kühner, II. p. 604; Buttmann, neut. Gr. p. 336 [E. T. 393].

καυχήματος ὑπὲρ ἡμ.] Here also καύχημα is not (comp. Romans 4:2; 1 Corinthians 5:6; 1 Corinthians 9:15 f.; 2 Corinthians 1:14) equivalent to καύχησις (de Wette and many others), but is materies gloriandi. The thought of the apostle is, that he gives the readers occasion for finding matter to make their boast to his advantage (ὑπέρ, comp. 2 Corinthians 9:3, 2 Corinthians 7:4, 2 Corinthians 8:24, 2 Corinthians 7:14, 2 Corinthians 9:2, 2 Corinthians 12:5). The whole phrase ἀλλὰ ἀφορμὴν κ.τ.λ. combines with all the strength of apostolic self-confidence a tender delicacy, in which, nevertheless, we cannot help seeing a touch of irony (for Paul presents the cold and adverse disposition towards him, into which a part of the church had allowed itself to be brought by the hostile teachers, as lack of occasion to make their boast on his account!).

After ἔχητε there is supplied either τί (Acts 24:19): in order that you may have somewhat to oppose to those who, etc. (so Calvin and the most), or τὶ λέγειν (Theodoret, de Wette, Osiander), or καύχημα (rather καύχ. ὑπὲρ ἡμ., for these words go together). So Camerarius, Zeger, and others, including Rückert and Ewald. But sinoe give and have are evidently correlative, the context leads us (comp. Hofmann also) to supply ἀφορμὴν καυχήματος ὑπὲρ ἡμ.: in order that ye may have this occasion, have it in readiness (comp. 1 Corinthians 14:26) to make use of it, against those who, etc. πρός, according to the context, denotes the direction contra, Matthiae, p. 1390.

πρὸς τοὺς ἐν προσώπῳ καυχ., κ. οὐ καρδίᾳ] against those, who make their boast for the sake of countenance and not of heart. A very striking description of the opponents as hypocritical boasters, not of the making a parade of their being immediate disciples of Christ (Hilgenfeld). The object of their self-boasting is the countenance, the holiness, the zeal, the love, etc., which present themselves on their countenance, but of the heart they make no boast; for of that of which they boast, their heart is empty.[223] “Ubi autem inanis est ostentatio, illic nulla sinceritas, nulla animi rectitudo,” Calvin. It is self-evident withal to the reader that this whole description is expressed according to the true state of the case, and not according to the design of the persons described themselves; for these wished, of course, to pass at all events for persons who with their self-boasting exhibited the virtues of their hearts, and not the semblance of their faces. Comp. Theophylact (following Chrysostom): τοιοῦτοι γὰρ ἦσαν εὐλαβείας μὲν ἔχοντες προσωπεῖον (mask), ἐν δὲ καρδίᾳ οὐδὲν φέροντες ἀγαθόν. Usually (also by Emmerling, Flatt, Schrader, Rückert, Räbiger, Neander) ἐν προσώπῳ is taken in the wider sense: de rebus externis, to which is then opposed in καρδίᾳ the purity of the disposition. Learning, eloquence, Jewish lineage, acquaintance with the older apostles, and the like, are held to be included in ἐν προσώπῳ; comp. Holsten, who recalls the Ἑβραῖοί εἰσιν κ.τ.λ. in 2 Corinthians 11:22. But with what warrant from linguistic usage? Even in passages like 1 Samuel 16:17, Matthew 22:16, πρόσωπον means nothing else than countenance. Paul must have chosen some such contrast as ἐν σαρκὶ καὶ οὐ πνεύματι, in order to be understood. Ewald explains it: “who doubtless boast me before the face, when they see myself present, but not in the heart.” But καυχωμένους cannot mean: who boast me, but only: who boast themselves. In the N. T., too, ἐν with καυχᾶσθαι always denotes the object,[224] of which one makes boast, even in Jam 4:16. Comp. Sir 39:8; Sir 50:20. This, at the same time, in opposition to Hofmann’s view: “they make their boast only in presence of others, and not inwardly before themselves.” Neither προσώπῳ (see Winer, p. 116 [E. T. 152]) nor ΚΑΡΔΊᾼ (1 Thessalonians 2:17; Romans 6:17; Romans 10:10; 2 Corinthians 2:4, al.) needed the article; and there was just as little need for the self-evident αὐτῶν to be inserted (1 Thess. l.c.). Indeed, if Paul had meant what Hofmann thinks, he could not but, in order to be intelligible, have added the different genitival definitions (ἄλλων

ἑαυτῶν). Bengel subtly and aptly remarks on ΚΑΡΔΊᾼ: “Haec Pauli vena erat: ab ejus corde fulgebat veritas ad conscientias Corinthiorum.”

[223] προσώπῳ, like καρδίᾳ, must refer to the persons concerned, and mean their countenance (as even Beyschlag grants). Hence it may not be taken, in accordance with Luke 13:26, of their having boasted that they had often seen, heard, perhaps even spoken with, Jesus, while yet they had gained no relation of the heart to him. This in opposition to Beyschlag in the Stud. u. Krit. 1865, p. 266. For in that case it would, in fact, be the countenance of Jesus, which they would make it the contents of their boast that they had seen, etc.

[224] In 2 Corinthians 10:16 the object is denoted by εἰς, whereby the reference to the locality is given for ἐν ἀλλοτρίῳ κανόνι, so that in this passage the construction is not καυχᾶσθαι ἐν, but καυχᾶσθαι εἰς. On καυχᾶσθαι ἐν, comp. the Latin gloriari in; Cic. N. D. iii. 36. 87; Tusc. i. 21. 49; Catil. ii. 9. 20. The object is conceived as that, in which the καυχᾶσθαι is causally based. In the classics it is joined with ἐπὶ, εἰς, and with the simple accusative.

2 Corinthians 5:12. οὐ γὰρ πάλιν κ.τ.λ.: we are not again (see 2 Corinthians 3:1, and the note there; he takes up this theme again after a long digression) commending ourselves to you, but [write these things] as giving you occasion of glorying on our behalf. We must understand in the latter clause some such words as γράφομεν ταῦτα: there are similar anacolutha at 2 Corinthians 7:5, 2 Corinthians 8:18.—ἵνα ἔχητε πρὸς τοὺς κ.τ.λ.: that ye may have it, sc., some καύχημα or matter of glorying, against those who glory in outward appearance and not in heart, sc., against his opponents at Corinth. The phrase προσώπῳ οὐ καρδία occurs in 1 Thessalonians 2:17 in the sense of πνεύματι οὐ σώματι (cf. 1 Corinthians 5:3, Colossians 2:5); but a better parallel for the present passage is 1 Samuel 16:7, where Samuel is told that while man looks εἰς πρόσωπον, God looks εἰς καρδίαν. So St. Paul here refers to teachers who lay stress on the outward appearance and the “face” (see note 2 Corinthians 1:11) of things, such as a man’s enthusiasms and visions (2 Corinthians 12:1 and 2 Corinthians 5:13), or his eloquence (chap. 2 Corinthians 10:10), or his letters of commendation (2 Corinthians 3:1), or his Jewish birth (2 Corinthians 11:22), or his personal intimacy in the flesh with Christ (2 Corinthians 5:16)—rather than on the inward motive and “heart” of his message.

12. For we commend not ourselves] ‘For’ is omitted by the best editors, and its omission clears the sense. “We are not endeavouring once more to recommend ourselves to you by what we have said. (For ‘again’ see note on ch. 2 Corinthians 3:1.) That is quite needless (ch. 2 Corinthians 3:2-3). We simply give you an opportunity of ‘answering the fool according to his folly,’ of shewing to those who judge by the appearance only, that we, too, have some fruits at least of our ministry to shew.”

occasion to glory] The word here translated ‘to glory’ means, here as elsewhere in the N. T. (see note on ch. 2 Corinthians 1:14 and on 1 Corinthians 5:6), cause of glorying or boasting. According to its strict meaning (which probably ought not to be pressed here) it should be rendered ‘supplying you with a source whence you may find a cause of boasting on our behalf.’

in appearance] Literally, in face, i.e. in that which is visible. See ch. 2 Corinthians 10:7.

and not in heart] Who have no ground for boasting in the purity of their motives, because self-interest is the only spring of their actions. Cf. 1 Corinthians 3. throughout, and ch. 2 Corinthians 11:12-13; Galatians 4:17.

2 Corinthians 5:12. Γὰρ, for) The reason assigned [aetiologia], why he leaves it to the conscience of the Corinthians to form their opinion.—διδόντες, giving) supply we write, or a similar general verb, the meaning of which is included in the particular expression, we commend. There is a participle of a similar kind, 2 Corinthians 7:5 to 2 Corinthians 11:6. He says, we furnish you with arguments for glorying in our behalf.—καυχήματος, glorying) with regard to our sincerity; so far am I from thinking, that there is after all need of any commendation of us.—ἔχητε, you may have) repeat, occasion.—ἐν προσώπῳ. καὶ οὐ καρδίᾳ, in appearance; and not in heart) The same antithesis is found at 1 Samuel 16:7, LXX., and in a different manner in 1 Thessalonians 2:17.—καρδίᾳ, in heart) such was Paul’s disposition [vein] of mind—truth shone from his heart to the consciences of the Corinthians.

Verse 12. - For we commend not ourselves again unto you. Still reverting to the charge that he was guilty of self praise, he says that his object is not this, for it was needless (2 Corinthians 3:2, 3). But give you occasion to glory on our behalf. But we speak as we have done to give you a starling-point for something to boast of on our behalf. He has already said (2 Corinthians 1:4) that the teachers and the taught in their mutual affection ought to have some ground for "boasting" (i.e. for speaking with some praise and exultation) of each other. The Corinthians were being robbed of this by the interested lies of St. Paul's opponents, who thought only about outward appearances. This is why no has set forth to them the aim and glory of his ministry. Nothing could be more gentle and forbearing than such a mode of stating his object. Yet for those who were sufficiently finely strung to understand it, there was an almost pathetic irony involved in it. Which glory in appearance, and not in heart; literally, in face. The grounds of their boasting, whatever they were, were superficial and external (2 Corinthians 10:7), not deep and sincere. But those who would judge of Paul aright must look into his very heart, and not on his face. 2 Corinthians 5:12
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