2 Corinthians 7:12
Why, though I wrote to you, I did it not for his cause that had done the wrong, nor for his cause that suffered wrong, but that our care for you in the sight of God might appear to you.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(12) Wherefore, though I wrote unto you.—The reference to the man that had suffered wrong implies that the offender in 1Corinthians 5:1 had married his step-mother during his father’s life. All other inter pretations—such as those which make St. Paul or the community the injured party—are fantastic. But in what sense was the father injured? The union was a marriage, not a mere concubinage or adultery (see Note on 1Corinthians 5:1), and it could not have been so unless the first marriage had been dissolved by a divorce. But if the husband had divorced the wife, then, though the son’s marriage may have shocked men as immoral, the father could hardly be said to have suffered a wrong to which he had exposed himself by his own act. The probable explanation is found in supposing that the wife, seduced by her step-son or seducing him, had divorced herself. Wives had this power under Roman law; and it was used with such license under the Empire, that Juvenal speaks of one woman of rank who had—

“Eight husbands in five autumns. Do you laugh?

The thing reads well upon an epitaph.”—Sat. vi. 230.

On this assumption the father had, of course, sustained a very grievous wrong. There is an obvious tone of impatience, almost of annoyance, in the way in which St. Paul speaks of the whole business. It was one of those scandals in which, though it had been necessary to assert the law of purity and enforce the discipline of the Church, he could not bring himself at the time to feel any special interest in either of the parties. Afterwards, when the sinner was repentant, there came, it is true, a new feeling of pity for him, as in 2Corinthians 2:6-8. But when he wrote, it was with a larger aim, to show them how much he cared for his disciples at Corinth, how jealous he was to clear away any stains that affected their reputation as a Church. It is noticeable that no mention is made of the woman’s repentance, nor, indeed, of her coming, in any way, under the discipline of the Church. The facts of the case suggest the conclusion that both husband and wife were heathens, and that the son was the only convert of the family. In this case we may fairly assume that she had played the part of temptress, and that his conscience, though weak, had been the more sensitive of the two. On this view the exhortations against being “unequally yoked together” with unbelievers gains a fresh significance. Possibly some idolatrous festival had furnished the first opportunity of sin, and so the fact gave special protest against any attempt to combine the worship of Christ with that of Belial.

2 Corinthians 7:12-16. Wherefore, though I wrote so severely to you — It was not only or chiefly for the sake of the incestuous person, or his father; but to show my care over you; in the sight of God — Who hath committed you to me to be instructed and directed. Therefore we were comforted in your comfort — In hearing you were made happy by my care of you; and exceedingly the more for the joy ye gave to Titus, because his spirit was refreshed — When ye received him with affection, and read my letter with due submission. If I have boasted any thing — Concerning you; to him — That I was confident the converts at Corinth would approve themselves worthy of the esteem in which I held them; I am not ashamed — Of that boasting; but as we spake all things to you in truth — When addressing ourselves to you; so our boasting — Of you to Titus, concerning your good disposition and proper behaviour, has been verified to our great satisfaction. And — Or so that; his inward affection — Greek, τα σπλαγχνα αυτου, his bowels, or tender affection; is more abundant toward you — Than it had been before; while he remembers the obedience — Of the generality of you to those apostolical injunctions which I sent you by him; how ye received him — As my messenger; with fear and trembling — With great solicitude, that there might be nothing in or among you which it might grieve him to observe, or me to hear reported. I rejoice therefore that your behaviour has been such as to give me reason to rely on your ready obedience in all things. Œcumenius has observed, that the apostle, in this part of his epistle, expressed his good opinion of the Corinthians, and mentioned his having praised them to Titus, to prepare them for his exhortations in the two following chapters concerning the collection for the saints in Judea. His address, therefore, in this part of his letter is admirable, especially as, in commending the Corinthians, he expressed himself quite agreeably to the good opinion which he now entertained of them. 7:12-16 The apostle was not disappointed concerning them, which he signified to Titus; and he could with joy declare the confidence he had in them for the time to come. Here see the duties of a pastor and of his flock; the latter must lighten the troubles of the pastoral office, by respect and obedience; the former make a due return by his care of them, and cherish the flock by testimonies of satisfaction, joy, and tenderness.Wherefore, though I wrote unto you ... - In this verse Paul states the main reason why he had written to them on the subject. It was not principally on account of the man who had done the wrong, or of him who had been injured; but it was from tender anxiety for the whole church, and in order to show the deep interest which he had in their welfare.

Not for his cause that had done the wrong - Not mainly, or principally on account of the incestuous person; 1 Corinthians 5:1. It was not primarily with reference to him as an individual that I wrote, but from a regard to the whole church.

Nor for his cause that suffered wrong - Not merely that the wrong which he had suffered might be rectified, and that his rights might be restored, valuable and desirable as was that object. The offence was that a man had taken his father's wife as his own 1 Corinthians 5:1, and the person injured, therefore, was his father. It is evident from this passage, I think, that the father was living at the time when Paul wrote this Epistle.

But that our care ... - I wrote mainly that I might show the deep interest which I had in the church at large, and my anxiety that it might not suffer by the misconduct of any of its members. It is from a regard to the welfare of the whole earth that discipline should be administered, and not simply with reference to an individual who has done wrong, or an individual who is injured. In church discipline such private interests are absorbed in the general interest of the church at large.

12. though I wrote unto you—"making you sorry with my letter" (2Co 7:8).

his cause that suffered wrong—the father of the incestuous person who had his father's wife (1Co 5:1). The father, thus it seems, was alive.

that our care for you, &c.—Some of the oldest manuscripts read thus, "That YOUR care for us might be made manifest unto you," &c. But the words, "unto you," thus, would be rather obscure; still the obscurity of the genuine reading may have been the very reason for the change being made by correctors into the reading of English Version. Alford explains the reading: "He wrote in order to bring out their zeal on his behalf (that is, to obey his command), and make it manifest to themselves in God's sight, that is, to bring out among them their zeal to regard and obey him." But some of the oldest manuscripts and versions (including the Vulgate and old Italian) support English Version. And the words, "to you," suit it better than the other reading. 2Co 2:4, "I wrote … that ye might know the love which I have more abundantly unto you," plainly accords with it, and disproves Alford's assertion that English Version is inconsistent with the fact as to the purpose of his letter. His writing, he says, was not so much for the sake of the individual offender, or the individual offended, but from his "earnest care" or concern for the welfare of the Church.

I did it not for his cause that had done the wrong; for the cause of him that had abused his father’s wife, not out of any particular hatred or ill-will I had to him;

nor for his cause that suffered wrong; nor for the sake of him whose wife was so abused; nor for my own sake, who had been so abused, and suffered wrong by you.

But that our care for you in the sight of God might appear to you; but only out of a love to your souls, and a care I had for you, that in all things you might approve yourselves unto God. Or possibly this text is more generally be interpreted, without respect either to the incestuous person in particular, or to his father; and the sense of the verse no more than this: Though in my former Epistle I wrote something sharply to you, yet I did it not in any passion, nor was I drawn aside by any prejudice or hatred of any person, nor out of any partial affection to any, as to any thing for which I blamed you; but out of that general love and affection which I have to you all, which produceth in me a care of and a solicitude for you, that you might do no evil; which care I was willing should appear to you. Wherefore, though l wrote unto you,.... Meaning in his former epistle, with so much sharpness and severity, and as may have been thought too much:

I did it not for his cause that had done the wrong; not for the sake of the incestuous person only and chiefly, not merely for his correction and restoration; though these things were intended, and earnestly desired by the apostle:

nor for his cause that suffered wrong: that is, the father of the incestuous person, who had been injured by this wicked action; it was not only or merely out of favour and respect to him, and that some compensation should be made to him in a church way, by detesting the crime, casting out the offender, and declaring themselves on the side of the injured person, and against him that had done the injury:

but that our care for you, in the sight of God, might appear unto you: some copies, and the Complutensian edition, and the Syriac, Arabic, and Ethiopic versions, read, "that your care for us", &c. and then the sense is, that you might have an opportunity of showing your affection for us, your regard to us, how readily you obey us in all things; but the other reading is to be preferred, the meaning of which is, that the apostle in writing did not so much consult and regard the private good of any particular person, either the injurer or the injured, though these were not out of his view; but he wrote in the manner he did, chiefly that it might be manifest what a concern he had for the good and welfare of the whole church; lest that should be corrupted, and receive any damage from such a notorious delinquent being tolerated or connived at among them; and that it was such a care and concern as was real, hearty, and sincere, was well known to God, and for the truth of which he could appeal to him.

Wherefore, though I wrote unto you, I did it not for his cause that had done the wrong, nor for his cause that suffered wrong, but that our care for you in the {h} sight of God might appear unto you.

(h) It was neither fake nor counterfeit, but such as I dare give account of before God.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
2 Corinthians 7:12. Ἄρα] therefore, for how natural was it for the readers to think that Paul had written on account of the ἀδικήσαντος and on account of the ἀδικηθέντος! And yet the effect which that part of the Epistle had produced on themselves had showed them by experience that the apostle’s true purpose was quite different. So at least Paul represents the matter in a delicate and conciliatory wa.

εἰ καὶ ἔγραψα ὑμῖν] if I have also written to you, i.e. have not kept silence, but have expressed myself by letter regarding the affair in question. Commonly a so, so sternly, or the like, is imported quite arbitrarily. Grotius indicates the right meaning: “si quid scripsi, nempe ea de re.” Comp. Osiander. Those who assume an Epistle now lost between our first and second (Bleek, Neander, Ewald, Beyschlag, Hilgenfeld) find it here alluded to. Comp. 2 Corinthians 2:3; 2 Corinthians 2:9. The apodosis already begins at οὐχ εἵνεκεν κ.τ.λ., and does not follow only at διὰ τοῦτο (as Hofmann complicates it, without sufficient ground), the more especially as in this construction, according to Hofmann, διὰ τοῦτο does not apply to 2 Corinthians 7:12—to which it must apply (comp. 1 Thessalonians 3:7)—but to 2 Corinthians 7:11.

οὐχἀλλʼ] is not non tam … quam (Erasmus, Estius, Flatt, and many others), but non … sed. Paul denies absolutely that he has written that part of the Epistle on account of the two persons mentioned. In the nature of the case, no doubt, he had to write against the ἀδικήσας, and so indirectly in favour of the ἀδικηθείς; but the destined purpose of this letter, as Paul from the true light of his apostolic standpoint is aware, lay not in this aim affecting the two persons primarily concerned, but in its higher significance as bearing on the church’s relation to the apostle: ἀλλʼ εἵνεκεν τοῦ φανερωθῆναι κ.τ.λ.

Regarding the form εἵνεκεν, see on Luke 4:18, and Kühner, I. p. 229, ed. 2. The ἀδικήσας is the incestuous person, and the ἀδικηθείς his father, as the party grievously injured by the son’s incestuous marriage with the step-mother. Theodoret, however, is quite arbitrary in supposing from this that he was already dead (καὶ τεθνεὼς γὰρ ἠδίκητο, τῆς εὐνῆς ὑβρισθείσης). See on 1 Corinthians 5:1. This explanation of the ἀδικηθείς seems from the relation of the two participles active and passive to be the only natural, and, in fact, necessary one. It is no objection that, in the first Epistle, nothing was said at length regarding the father and the wrong done to him (see only 2 Corinthians 5:1), since the censure and ordaining of chastisement to the transgressor of themselves practically contained the satisfaction to the injured father. Comp. on the passive ἀδικ. in the sense of infringing marriage-rights, Plut. Anton. 9; Eurip. Med. 267, 314; and see in general on ἀδικεῖν in reference to adultery, Dorvill. ad Charit. p. 468; Abresch, ad Xen. Eph., ed. Locella, p. 222. Others (Wolf, Storr, Emmerling, Osiander, Neander, Maier) think that Paul means himself, in so far as he had been deeply injured in his office by that transgression. But this mode of designating himself, set down thus without any more precise indication, would be strangely enigmatical, as well as marked by want of delicate tact (as if the readers were not ἀδικηθέντες, like Paul!), and no longer suiting what was already said in 2 Corinthians 2:5. The reference of τοῦ ἀδικηθέντος to the apostle himself would only be right on the assumption that allusion is here made to the state of things discussed by Paul in an intermediate letter now lost.[263] Others (Bengel, comp. Wolf also) think that the Corinthians are meant, but the singular is decisive against this view, even apart from the unsuitable meaning. Others have even referred τοῦ ἀδικησ. and ΤΟῦ ἈΔΙΚΗΘ. to the adulterer and the adulteress (Theophylact: ἀμφότεροι γὰρ ἀλλήλους ἠδίκησαν); others, again, have taken ΤΟῦ ἈΔΙΚΗΘ. as neuter (Heinsius, Billroth), equivalent to τοῦ ἀδικήματος. The last is at variance with linguistic usage; and what sort of delicate apostolic tact would it have been, to say that he had not written on account of the deed!

ἀλλʼ εἵνεκεν κ.τ.λ.] According to Lachmann’s correct reading, as translated also by Luther (see the critical remarks): but because your zeal for us was to become manifest among you before God, i.e. but because I unshed to bring it about that the zealous interest which you cherish for us should be brought to light among you before God (a religious expression of uprightness and sincerity, 2 Corinthians 4:2). Comp. on the thought, 2 Corinthians 2:9; πρὸς ὑμᾶς is the simple with you, among you, in the midst of you, in your church-life, not exactly in public meeting of the church (Ewald), which would have been indicated more precisely. Comp. 1 Corinthians 16:7. Rückert, without due ground, finds the meaning of πρὸς ὑμᾶς so ambiguous that he prefers the Recepta, according to which the meaning is: because our zealous interest for you was to become manifest upon you before God. Comp. 2 Corinthians 2:4. Hofmann, who rejects both the Recepta and the reading of Lachmann, and prefers that of א: Τ. ΣΠΟΥΔῊΝ ὙΜῶΝ ΤῊΝ ὙΠῈΡ ὙΜῶΝ ΠΡῸς ὙΜᾶς, takes this ΠΡῸς ὙΜᾶς even in a hostile sense: “You are to show yourselves diligent for yourselves and against yourselves;” the strict procedure of the church against its adherents is on the one hand an acting for themselves (ὙΠῈΡ ὙΜῶΝ), and on the other hand an acting against themselves (πρὸς ὑμᾶς). This artificial interpretation is wrong, because, if πρὸς could mean contra here, Paul must have written at least ΤῊΝ ὙΠῈΡ ὙΜῶΝ ΤΕ ΚΑῚ ΠΡῸς ὙΜᾶς, and because ΠΡΌς with ΣΠΟΥΔΉ (Hebrews 6:11; Herod. iv. 11. 1; Diod. xvii. 114) and with ΣΠΟΥΔΆΖΕΙΝ (Dem. 515. 23, 617. 10) has not that arbitrarily assumed sense, but the sense of an interest for some one, though this is more commonly expressed by περί. If the reading of א were right, it would have to be explained simply: in order that your zeal, in which you aim at your own good, should become manifest among you before God. Had Paul wished to express the singular meaning which Hofmann imports, he would have known how to write: ΤῊΝ ΣΠΟΥΔῊΝ ὙΜῶΝ ΤῊΝ ὙΠῈΡ ὙΜῶΝ ΤΕ ΚΑῚ ΚΑΘʼ ὙΜῶΝ.

[263]
On this assumption Bleek is of opinion that Paul, in that lost Epistle, had rebuked the wanton defiance of the incestuous person towards him (comp. also Neander). According to Ewald, Paul is the ἀδικηθείς over against the man of reputation in the church, who had been endeavouring to deprive him of his repute in it by public accusations. Comp. Hilgenfeld in his Zeitschr. 1864, p. 169, 1865, p. 252, according to whom Paul is the ἀδικηθείς, because things had in the meanwhile come to a pronounced rejection of his apostolic repute. According to Beyschlag in the Stud. u. Krit. 1865, p. 254, Timothy is meant, who was personally insulted by a spokesman in the ranks of the opponents.2 Corinthians 7:12. ἄρα εἰ καὶ ἔγραψα κ.τ.λ.: consequently, although I wrote to you, i.e., wrote a severe letter, it was not for his cause that did the wrong, sc., the incestuous son of 1 Corinthians 5:1, nor for his cause that suffered the wrong, sc., his father, but that your diligence on our behalf might be made manifest to yourselves (“chez vous,” so πρὸς ὑμᾶς, 1 Thessalonians 3:4) in the sight of God. He does not mean that this was the only reason for writing (cf. 2 Corinthians 2:9), and that the more obvious reason was not in his mind; but he states strongly (expressing himself by an idiom common in the O.T., e.g., Jeremiah 7:22) a principal cause of his writing, viz., that the Corinthian Church might be recalled to a true sense of what was due to its founder, as if it were the only cause. See on 2 Corinthians 2:9, and, for a discussion of the whole question, see Introd., p. 10 ff.12. for his cause that had done the wrong] See 1 Corinthians 5:1.

nor for his cause that suffered wrong] From this it has been inferred that the father of the offender was still alive.

but that our care for you in the sight of God might appear unto you] Many MSS., versions, and editors read that your care for us might appear to you. Whichever be the true reading, the alteration has either sprung from a desire to alter the passage into conformity with the supposed meaning of the Apostle, or from similarity of sound, in the case of a copyist writing from oral dictation. Either reading would make good sense, but that in the text is more probable for two reasons: (1) the Apostle has been all along insisting on the purity of his motives and on his unfeigned affection for his Corinthian converts (ch. 2 Corinthians 2:17, 2 Corinthians 4:2); and (2) it seems rather unlikely that he should have wished the Corinthians to manifest their earnestness in his behalf unto themselves. See, however, on the other hand, ch. 2 Corinthians 2:9, and cf. Calvin, who says “St Paul congratulates the Corinthians on having learned at length by this test, how they were disposed towards him.” The word here translated care is the same as that rendered carefulness in the last verse.2 Corinthians 7:12. Οὐχ ἓνεκεν τοῦ ἀδικήσαντος) Whatever I have written, I have written it, not for the sake of him, who did the wrong. He calls him τὸν ἀδικήσαντα, whom he calls, ch. 2 Corinthians 2:5, τὸν λελυπηκότα. He now varies the term because the expression, to make sorry, he said concerning himself, 2 Corinthians 7:8-9; and he now dismisses this very sorrow. Inasmuch as you Corinthians have done what was just respecting him, who had committed the sin, by your zeal and revenge, I acquiesce.—οὐδὲ ἕνεκεν τοῦ ἀδικηθέντος, nor for the sake of him, who suffered wrong) The singular for the plural by euphemism. The Corinthians had suffered wrong, ch. 2 Corinthians 2:5; and their clearing of themselves, and indignation put it now in Paul’s power to acquiesce also on their account. Others explain it as referring to the offended parent, 1 Corinthians 5:1.—τὴν σπουδὴν ἡμῶν, our care) Comp. 2 Corinthians 2:4.—ἐνώπιον, in the sight of) Construed with φανερωθῆναι, that it might be manifested.Verse 12. - Wherefore, though I wrote unto you. "So then, even if I did write you," namely, about that matter. For his cause that had done the wrong, etc. My object in writing was not to mix myself up with the personal quarrel. I had in view neither the wronger nor the wronged, directly and primarily, but wrote for the sake of the whole Church (1 Corinthians 5:1, 2; 1 Corinthians 6:7). Nor for his cause that suffered wrong. Apparently the father of the offender (1 Corinthians 5:1). Our care for you, etc. Among the diversity of readings in this clause, which seem to be still further confused by mere mistakes of copyists, the best supported reading is "your care for us" (B, C, E, K, L, and various versions, etc.). The Sinaitic manuscript has "your care for yourselves." The variations have partly risen from the apparent strangeness of the remark that his letter had been written in order that their care for him might be manifested to themselves; in other words, that they might learn from their own conduct the reality of their earnest feelings for him. He has already spoken of this "earnest care" of theirs (ver. 11), but not in quite the same sense. Certainly, however, the reading followed by our Authorized Version, even if it be a correction, furnishes a more natural meaning (comp. 2 Corinthians 2:4), and the other may have arisen from a clerical error. Our care for you (τὴν σπουδὴν ἡμῶν τὴν ὑπὲρ ὑμῶν)

The correct text reverses the pronouns and reads your care for us. This difficult passage means that while Paul did desire the punishment and reformation of the offender, and the vindication of the wronged party, his main object was that the fidelity and zeal of the Church toward God should be manifested, as it was (2 Corinthians 7:11). This would appear in the manifestation of their zealous interest for him as God's minister. He states this as if it were his only object. Manifest unto you is rather among you (πρός), as in 2 Corinthians 1:12; 1 Corinthians 16:7.

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