2 Corinthians 7:3
I speak not this to condemn you: for I have said before, that you are in our hearts to die and live with you.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(3) I speak not this to condemn you.—Better, I do not speak as condemning. There is no “you” in the Greek, and the form of expression seems intentionally vague, as leaving it an open question whether his words might refer to his readers or to others. We trace here a sudden revulsion of feeling. What he had just said seemed to imply that he condemned them for even listening to the calumnies which had been circulated against him, for joining in any measure even of outward friendship with men of evil lives; and then there rushes on his memory the recollection of all the good news which Titus had brought. Indignation and jealous sensitiveness are swallowed up in the overflowing thankfulness to which those tidings had given birth at the time, and which were now renewed.

I have said before . . .—He had not used the form of expression before, as far as this letter is concerned, but the fact was implied in what he had said in 2Corinthians 6:11 : “Our heart is enlarged.” The words that follow are partly an almost proverbial expression for strong attachment, as in Horace (Odes, iii. 9): “Tecum vivere amem, tecum obeam libens”—

“With thee I fain would live,

With thee I fain would die;”

partly with a profounder meaning, that, whether in death or life (the order of the words throws us back on “dying, but behold, we live,” in 2Corinthians 6:9), his heart and prayers would be with them and for them.

7:1-4 The promises of God are strong reasons for us to follow after holiness; we must cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of flesh and spirit. If we hope in God as our Father, we must seek to be holy as he is holy, and perfect as our Father in heaven. His grace, by the influences of his Spirit, alone can purify, but holiness should be the object of our constant prayers. If the ministers of the gospel are thought contemptible, there is danger lest the gospel itself be despised also; and though ministers must flatter none, yet they must be gentle towards all. Ministers may look for esteem and favour, when they can safely appeal to the people, that they have corrupted no man by false doctrines or flattering speeches; that they have defrauded no man; nor sought to promote their own interests so as to hurt any. It was affection to them made the apostle speak so freely to them, and caused him to glory of them, in all places, and upon all occasions.I speak not this to condemn you - I do not speak this with any desire to reproach you. I do not complain of you for the purpose of condemning, or because I have a desire to find fault, though I am compelled to speak in some respect of your lack of affection and liberality toward me. It is not because I have no love for you, and wish to have occasion to use words implying complaint and condemnation.

For I have said before - 2 Corinthians 7:11-12.

That ye are in our hearts - That is, we are so much attached to you; or you have such a place in our affections.

To die and live with you - If it were the will of God, we would be glad to spend our lives among you, and to die with you; an expression denoting most tender attachment. A similar well-known expression occurs in Horace:

Tecum vivere amem. tecum obeam libens.

Odes, B. III. IX. 24.

With the world I live, with the world Idie.

This was an expression of the tenderest attachment. It was true that the Corinthians had not shown themselves remarkably worthy of the affections of Paul, but from the beginning he had felt toward them the tenderest attachment. And if it had been the will of God that he should cease to travel, and to expose himself to perils by sea and land to spread the knowledge of the Saviour, he would gladly have confined his labors to them, and there have ended his days.

3. In excusing myself, I do not accuse you, as though you suspected me of such things [Menochius], or as though you were guilty of such things; for I speak only of the false apostles [Estius and Greek commentators]. Rather, "as though you were ungrateful and treacherous" [Beza].

I have said before—in 2Co 6:11, 12; compare Php 1:7.

die and live with you—the height of friendship. I am ready to die and live with you and for you (Php 1:7, 20, 24; 2:17, 18). Compare as to Christ, Joh 10:11.

The apostle deals very tenderly with this church, which was (as he knew very well) full of many touchy members; who upon all occasions were ready to reflect upon him, and to take occasion from any expressions of his in letters, as well as other things, to that purpose; to obviate whose whisperings, the apostle tells them, that he did not speak this to reflect upon or expose them, as if they had wronged or defrauded him; for the love which he bare to them was such, as would admit of no such thing; he so loved them, as that he could live and die with them. I speak not this to condemn you,.... Referring either to the exhortations before given, to have no sinful conversation with unbelievers, and to cleanse themselves from all impurity, external and internal; and to go on in a course of holiness, in the fear of God, to the end of life; or to the account just given of himself and fellow ministers; and his sense is this, the exhortations I have given must not be so understood, as though I charged and accused you with keeping company with unbelievers, or as though you were not concerned for purity of life and conversation; or when I remove the above mentioned things from myself and others, I mean not to lay them upon you, as if I thought that you had wronged, corrupted, or defrauded any; when I clear myself and others, I do not design to accuse or condemn you; my view is only to the false apostles, who have done these things, when we have not, and therefore we have the best claim to your affections:

for I have said before, you are in our hearts; you are inscribed on our hearts, engraven there, "ye are our epistle written in our hearts", 2 Corinthians 3:2 ye are not straitened in us, 2 Corinthians 6:12 you have a place and room enough in our affections, which are strong towards you, insomuch that it is our desire and resolution

to die and live with you; or together: neither death nor life shall separate our love, or destroy our friendship; there is nothing we more desire than to live with you; and should there be any occasion for it, could freely die with you, and for you.

I speak not this to {c} condemn you: for I have said before, that ye are in our hearts to die and live with you.

(c) To condemn you of unkindness or treachery.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
2 Corinthians 7:3. Not for the sake of condemning do I say it, namely, what was said in 2 Corinthians 7:2. I do not wish thereby to express any condemnatory judgment, as if, although we have done wrong to no one, etc., you failed in that love to which χωρήσατε ἡμᾶς lays claim. Κατάκρισιν was taken of the reproach of covetousness (so Theodoret, and comp. Emmerling and Neander), but this is an arbitrary importation into the word. According to Rückert, πρὸς κατάκρισιν is not to be supplemented by ὑμῶν, but Paul wishes here to remove the unpleasant impression of 2 Corinthians 7:2, in which he confirms the severity of his former Epistle, so that there is to be regarded as object of κατάκρισις primarily the incestuous person, and secondarily the whole church, in so far as it has acted towards this man with unchristian leniency. This explanation falls to the ground with Rückert’s view of 2 Corinthians 7:2; the ἐστέ that follows puts it beyond doubt that ὑμῶν is really to be supplied with πρὸς κατακρ. for its explanation. According to de Wette, οὐ π. κατάκρ. λ. applies in form, no doubt, to 2 Corinthians 7:2, but in substance more to the censure, of which the expostulatory tone of 2 Corinthians 7:2 had created an expectation; in other words, it applies to something not really said, which is arbitrary, since what was said was fitted sufficiently to appear as κατάκρισις.

προείρηκα γάρ] for I have said before (2 Corinthians 6:11 f.), antea dixi, as 3Ma 6:35, 2Ma 14:8, and often in classical writers. Comp. Ephesians 3:3. This contains the proof that he οὐ πρὸς κατάκρισιν λέγει; for, if he spoke now unto condemnation, he would contradict his former word.

ὅτι ἐν ταῖς καρδ. κ.τ.λ.] Comp. Php 1:7. In 2 Corinthians 6:11 f. he has expressed not these words, but their sense. By his adding the definition of degree, εἰς τὸ συναποθ. κ.τ.λ., Paul becomes his own interprete.

εἰς τὸ συναποθανεῖν καὶ συζῇν] is usually taken (see still Rückert, de Wette, Ewald, also Osiander, who, however, mixes up much that is heterogeneous) as: so that I would die and live with you, and this as “vehementissimum amoris indicium, nolle nec in vita nee in morte ab eo quem ames separari,” Estius, on which Grotius finely remarks: “egregius χαρακτὴρ boni pastoris, John 10:12.” Comparison is made with the Horatian tecum vivere amem, tecum obeam lubens (Od. iii. 9. 24), and similar passages in Wetstein. But against this may be urged not only the position of the two words, of which the συναποθανεῖν must logically have been put last, but also the perfectly plain construction, according to which the subject of ἐστε must also be the subject of συναπ and συζῇν.: you are in our hearts in order to die and to live with (us),[256] i.e. in order not to depart from our hearts (from our love) in death, if it is appointed to us to die, and in life, if it is appointed to us to remain in life. For he, whom we love, dies and lives with us, when regarded, namely, from the idea of our heartfelt love to him, and from our sympathetic point of view feeling this consciousness of love which has him always present to our heart—a consciousness according to which we, dying and living, know him in our hearts as sharing death and life with us. And how natural that Paul, beset with continual deadly perils (2 Corinthians 6:9), should have put the συναποθανεῖν first! in which case συζῇν is to be referred to eternal life just as little as ζῶμεν in 2 Corinthians 6:9 (Ambrosiaster, comp. Osiander). Hence the thought can as little surprise us, and as little appear “tolerably meaningless” (de Wette), as the conception of alter ego. Hofmann, too, with his objection (“since they, nevertheless, in fact do not die with him,” etc.) mistakes the psychological delicacy and thoughtfulness of the expression; and wishes to interpret it—which no reader could have hit on (expressly as προείρ. does not point back further than to 2 Corinthians 6:11)—from 2 Corinthians 6:9 and 2 Corinthians 4:11 to the effect that the life of the apostle is a continual dying, in which he yet remains always in life, and that consequently it is his life so constituted which the readers share, when they are in his heart.

[256] There is no justification for departing in any passage from the telic reference of εἰς with the infinitive. Comp. on 2 Corinthians 8:6.2 Corinthians 7:3. πρὸς κατάρ. κ.τ.λ.: I do not say this by way of condemnation (i.e., do not think that I accuse you of mistrusting me); for I have said before (viz., in 2 Corinthians 3:2, 2 Corinthians 6:11) that ye are in our hearts (cf. Php 1:7) to die together and to live together (cf. 2 Corinthians 1:6), i.e., your image is in my heart in life and in death. Where there is such a wealth of sympathy as this, there can be no thought of “condemnation”. Wetstein gives a good verbal parallel from Athenæus (vi., 249), τούτους δʼ οἱ βασιλεῖς ἔχουσι συζῶντας καὶ συναποθνησκότας.3. I speak not this to condemn you] “It might seem as if this were spoken at them with indirect reproach. Therefore he adds, ‘I am not reproaching you for past injustice: I only say these things to assure you of my undiminished love.’ ” Robertson.

for I have said before] See ch. 2 Corinthians 1:6, 2 Corinthians 4:10-12; 2 Corinthians 4:15, 2 Corinthians 5:11; 2 Corinthians 5:13-15.

you are in our hearts to die and live with you] “There is one thing in the character of St Paul which often escapes observation. Carlyle calls him an ‘unkempt Apostle Paul,’ and some say of him, ‘he was a man rude, brave, true, unpolished.’ We all know his integrity, his truth, his daring, his incorruptible honesty. But besides these, there was a refined and delicate courtesy, which was for ever taking off the edge of his sharpest rebukes, and sensitively anticipating every pain his words might give.” Robertson. He refers to Philemon 1:8; Philemon 1:12; Philemon 1:14; Philemon 1:17-20; Acts 26:29; and Php 3:18. See also 1 Corinthians 4:14; 2 Corinthians 6:11-13; 2 Corinthians 9:4, and the whole of the present chapter. Robertson’s whole commentary on this chapter is invaluable to any one who desires to grasp the full meaning of the Apostle. For the expression ‘in our hearts,’ see Php 1:7. The commentators have pointed out a similar expression to that in the text in Horace, Odes, III. 9. 24, “Tecum vivere amem, tecum obeam libens.” Wordsworth refers to the Theban sacred band, and to a similar passage in Athenaeus. But a deeper meaning is suggested by a comparison of ch. 2 Corinthians 4:10-12 and notes. Also cf. ch. 2 Corinthians 3:2.2 Corinthians 7:3. Οὐ πρὸς κατάκρισιν, not [for condemnation] to condemn you) He shows that he does not say, what he has said at 2 Corinthians 7:2, because he supposes that the Corinthians dislike Paul and his colleagues, but that he speaks with a paternal spirit, ch. 2 Corinthians 6:13 : and in order to prove how far he is from entertaining that supposition, he calls it a condemnation, thus humbling himself anew.—προείρηκα, I have said before) ch. 2 Corinthians 6:2.—γὰρ, for) The reason why he himself does not condemn them, and why they ought to receive the apostle and his associates [2 Corinthians 7:2 “Receive us.”]—ἐν καρδίαις, in our hearts) So Php 1:7.—εἰς τὸ συναποθανεῖν καὶ συζῇν, to die and live with you) ch. 2 Corinthians 1:6, 2 Corinthians 4:12. The height of friendship.Verse 3. - I speak not this to condemn you. "Not by way of condemnation am I speaking." My object is to maintain the old love between us; what I say, therefore, is merely to defend myself, not to complain of you (comp. 1 Corinthians 4:14). I have said before. He has not said it in so many words, but has implied it in 2 Corinthians 3:2, 3; 2 Corinthians 6:11-14. Ye are in our hearts. So he says to his beloved Philippians, "I have you in my heart" (Philippians 1:7). To die and live with you. Similarly he tells the Thessalonians that he was ready to give them even his own life (1 Thessalonians 2:8). This is no mere conventional expression of deep affection, like Horace's, "Tecum vivere amem, tecum obeam libens;" nor is it the description of some compact for life and death like that of the Theban Band. It has the deeper meaning which was involved by the words "life" and "death" on the lips of a Christian (2 Corinthians 4:11; 2 Corinthians 6:9). And one whose life was, for Christ's sake, a daily death, naturally mentions death first.
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