Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary - Alford
This is the third time I am coming to you. In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established.Chap. 13:1-10.] He warns them of the severity which on his arrival, if such be the case, he will surely exercise, and prove his apostolic authority. To this proof, however, he exhorts them not to put him.
1.] This third time I am coming to you: i.e. ‘this is the third visit, which I am now about to pay you.’ Had not chronological theories intervened, no one would ever have thought of any other rendering. The usual one, ‘This is the third time that I have been intending to come to you,’ introduces here, as also in ch. 12:14, an element not only foreign to, but detrimental to, the purpose. The Apostle wishes to impress on them the certainty of this coming, and to prepare them for it by solemn self-examination; and in order to this, he (on this interpretation) uses an expression which would only remind them of the charge of ἐλαφρία which had been brought against him, and tend to diminish the solemnity of the warning. As another chronological refuge, Beza, al., suppose his two Epistles to be meant by the two former ‘profectiones ad illos.’ In answer to all attempts to give here any but the obvious sense, we may safely maintain that had any other been meant, we should certainly have had more indication of it, than we have now. On τρίτον τοῦτο, Meyer compares Herod. v. 76, τέταρτον δὴ τοῦτο … ἀπικόμενοι: see also reff.: and on Paul’s visit to Corinth, the Prolegomena to 1 Cor. § v.
ἐπὶ στόμ.] i.e. ‘I will not now, as before, be with you ἐν πάσῃ ὑπομονῇ as regards the offenders: but will come to a regular process, and establish the truth in a legal manner,’see reff.
This explanation, however, has not been the usual, one: Chrys., Calvin, Estius, al., and recently Neander and Olsh. and Stanley, understanding the two or three witnesses, of Paul’s two or three visits, as establishing, either (1) the truth of the facts, or (2) the reality of his threats: so Chrys., Hom. xxix. p. 639 f.: ἅπαξ εἶπον κ. δεύτερον, ὅτε παρεγενόμην· λέγω καὶ νῦν διὰ γραμμάτων. καὶ μὴν ἐὰν ἀκούσητέ μου (al. ἐὰν μὲν ἀκούσητε), ὅπερ ἐπεθύμουν γέγονεν. ἐὰν δὲ παρακούσητε, ἀνάγκη λοιπὸν στῆσαι τὰ εἰρημένα, καὶ ἐπαγαγεῖν τὴν τιμωρίαν,—and Theophyl., πᾶν ῥῆμα ἀπειλητικὸν κατασταθήσεται. But it is decisive against the whole interpretation, as Meyer remarks, that thus the sins committed since the Apostle’s last visit would remain altogether unnoticed. Another view, connected with the rendering of ἔρχομαι ‘am intending to come,’ is given by Wetstein: “Spero jam denique mihi successurum, ut vobis demonstrem, serio me desiderasse ad vos venire: sicut ea quæ trium hominum testimonio probantur, in judicio fidem faciunt.” Similarly Grotius and Le Clerc. But it is fatal to this, that according to it, the δύο μάρτυρες had failed to establish it.
καὶ τρ., not for ἢ τρ.,—two (where only two can be had), and three (where so many can be obtained): ‘two and three respectively.’ μαρτύρων, the dual number not occurring in the N. T.
2.] I have forewarned yon, and I now forewarn you, as (I did, προείρηκα) when present the second time, so also (I do) now (προλέγω) when absent. It certainly seems to me that this is the only natural way of taking the words. Grot., Est., Bengel, al., and De Wette, take ὡς παρὼν τὸ δεύτ. to mean, ‘as if I were present the second time,’ meaning this next time. But is it possible that the Apostle should have written so confusedly, as to have said in the same sentence τρίτον τοῦτο ἔρχομαι, and ὡς παρὼν τὸ δεύτερον, both, according to these interpreters, with reference to the same journey? And would he not have even on such an hypothesis have said τὸ δεύτερον τοῦτο? But if we render as above, the προείρηκα (perf. because the warning yet endured in force) refers to his second visit (παρὼν τὸ δεύτ.), and the προλέγω to his present condition of absence (ἀπὼν νῦν), ὡς being as (‘I did’ or ‘do,’ for it applies to both clauses), and καί the simple copula.
τοῖς προημ.] the same persons as are thus designated above, ch. 12:21. It is not necessary to fix the προ- any more accurately.
τοῖς λοιποῖς πᾶσιν] all the rest of you, who may not have actually sinned, but still require warning, on account of your own personal danger, connexion with the προημαρτηκότες, &c.
ἐὰν ἔλθω εἰς τὸ π.] at my next coming. This was what he προείρηκεν when he was last there, and now προλέγει.
3.] ἐπεί gives the reason why he will not spare: they required the exertion of discipline; and they challenged him to the proof of his apostolic authority.
δοκιμὴν … χριστοῦ] The genitive is either objective, a proof of Christ speaking in me, i.e. ‘that Christ speaks in me,’—or subjective, a proof given by Christ speaking in me—‘a token of my authority vouchsafed by Christ speaking in me.’ This latter meaning is more suited to what follows, where Christ becomes the subject. Such proof would be, the immediate execution, by divine power, of some punishment denounced by Paul’s word, as in Acts 13:11.
ὅς, i.e. Christ: see above.
δυνατεῖ, to answer to ἀσθενεῖ, refers both to gifts and miracles, and to the Power of Christ which He would exert in punishment;—εἰς ὑμᾶς and ἐν ὑμῖν differ—the εἱς being hypothetical,—the ἐν, matter of fact. The assertion tends to remind them of the danger of provoking Christ, who spoke by Paul.
4.] Confirmation of the foregoing οὐκ ἀσθενεῖ, ἀλλὰ δυνατεῖ. The rec. text, καὶ γὰρ εἰ, would be quite beside the purpose, and would mean, ‘For even if He were crucified’, ‘for even putting the case that He was crucified:’ καὶ εἰ cannot he = εἰ καί, though, as in Vulg. ‘etsi,’—and E. V. Hartung, Partikellehre i. 139, shews that in καὶ εἰ, the climax belongs only to the hypothetical particle εἰ, not as in εἰ καί, to the fact presupposed: ‘even if,’ not ‘if even,’ or ‘although.’ Examples of καὶ εἰ are Plato, Sympos. 185, καὶ ἐὰν τοῦτο ποιήσῃς ἅπαξ ἢ δίς, καὶ εἰ πάνυ ἰσχυρά ἐστι, παύσεται. Eur. Androm. 266, καὶ γὰρ εἰ πέριξ σʼ ἔχει τηκτὸς μόλυβδος, ἐξαναστήσω σʼ ἐγώ. Sappho, καὶ γὰρ αἰ φεύγει, ταχέως διώξει. See more in Hartung, l. c.
For he was even crucified (that καὶ γάρ always means ‘for … even’ …, or ‘for … also,’ and never simply ‘for,’ see Hartung, i. 137 f., where he has collected many examples, e.g.: Il. α. 63, καὶ γάρ τʼ ὄναρ ἐκ Διός ἐστιν,—Herod. i. 77, καὶ γὰρ πρὸς τούτους αὐτῷ ἐπεποίητο συμμαχίη) from (as the source,—the conditional element,—by which His crucifixion became possible) weakness, yet He lives by (source [of His life]) the Power of God (which raised Him from the dead, Romans 6:4; Romans 8:11; Ephesians 1:20; Philippians 2:9). For we also are weak in Him (i.e. in Him, in our communion with and imitation of Christ, we, as He did, lay aside our power and spare you: we partake of His voluntary abnegation of power which we might have used. The context requires this explanation, and refutes that of Chrys., p. 644, τί ἐστιν, ἀσθ. ἐν αὐτῷ; διωκόμεθα, ἐλαυνόμεθα, τὰ ἔσχατα πάσχομεν, so Theodoret, Theophyl., Grot., Estius, al.), but shall live (exercise our apostolic authority, in contrast to the ἀσθένεια above) with Him (as He now exercises His power in His glorified resurrection life) from (source) the power of God [with respect to you (εἰς ὑμᾶς, if genuine, may belong either to δυνάμεως θεοῦ, = δυνάμ. θεοῦ τῆς εἰς ὑμᾶς, the art. being often omitted in such constructions,—or to ζήσομεν, ‘we shall live with respect to you,’ which agrees better with the parallelism, but not so well with the arrangement of the sentence. The sense seems to require the latter interpretation, for the δύναμις θεοῦ εἰς ὑμ. would be rather the result, than the source of the apostolic energy indicated by ζήσομεν)]. I have taken ζήσομεν, as the context plainly requires, figuratively (see ref.): but many Commentators take it literally, of the resurrection: e.g. Grot.—‘vitam consequemur immortalem.’
5.] “You want to prove Christ speaking in me;—if you necessitate this proof, it will be given. But I will tell you whom rather to prove. Prove yourselves; there let your attention be concentrated, if you will apply tests.” Notice the prominently emphatic ἑαυτούς: so Chrys., ib.: τί γὰρ λέγω περὶ ἐμοῦ τοῦ διδασκάλου, φησί … ὑμᾶς γὰρ αὐτοὺς ἐὰν βουλήθητε ἐξετάσαι …, ὄψεσθε ὅτι καὶ ἐν ὑμῖν ὁ χριστός.
εἰ ἐστὲ ἐν τῇ π.] ‘Whether you maintain your Christian place and standing in Christ, which will be shewn by the power of Christ’s Spirit present and ener. gizing among you.’
ἐπιτιν. ἑαυτ, ὅτι] for the construction see reff. and Winer, edn. 6, § 66. 5. 1. a.
εἰ μή τι, unless indeed … see reff.
ἀδόκιμοι, ‘not abiding the proof,’ worthless,—i.e. in this case, ‘mere pretended Christians.’
6.] But (however it may fall out with your proof of yourselves) I hope (or perhaps better, expect) that ye shall know that we are not worthless (unable to abide the proof to which you put us. The verse is said, as Theodoret, ἀπειλητικῶς;—and Chrys. remarks, ib., ἐπειδὴ γὰρ ἐντεῦθεν βούλεσθε, φησί, διὰ τῆς εἰς ὑμᾶς κολάσεως τὴν δοκιμὴν λαβεῖν, οὐκ ἀπορήσομεν τοῦ δοῦναι ὑμῖν τὴν ἀπόδειξιν).
7.] Yet he prays God rather that they may require no such demonstration of his apostolic power, even though he lose in reputation by it.
μὴ ποιῆς. ὑμ. κακ. μηδ.] Not, as Grot., al., ‘that I may not have to inflict on you any evil’ (an extraordinary rendering of κακὸν ποιεῖν), but that ye may do no evil, corresponding to ἵνα ὑμεῖς τὸ καλὸν ποιῆτε below.
οὐχ ἵνα …] ‘And the purpose of this my prayer is not to gain any repute by your Christian graces, but that you may be highly endowed with them, and (if it so happen) we may be as of no repute (‘hominum scilicet judicio,’ Beza).’ That this is the sense, and that δόκιμοι is not in this verse to be applied to substantiation of power by punishment, is necessitated by the construction,—it being plainly shewn by the infin. after εὐχόμ., that ἵνα is not here meant to apply, even in part, to the purport of the prayer (as in Colossians 1:9; 2Thessalonians 1:11; see note on 1Corinthians 14:13), but to its purpose. And that being settled,—we pray … not in order that we may appear δόκιμοι,—it follows that the appearing δόκιμοι would be a result of the fulfilment of the prayer, viz. of your doing no evil, and this it couid only be by their doing no evil bringing credit on the Apostle’s ministry. It is not for this end that we pray that you may do no evil, but for your own good, even if that tend to the non-exercise, and so depreciation, of our apostolic power.
8.] For we have no power against the truth (of the Gospel, as Meyer; not of the facts, as Chrys., al., and De Wette, which might suit κατὰ τῆς ἀλ., but comes in very lamely with ὑπὲρ τῆς ἀλ.—‘If you walk in the truth, we shall be at one with you and so have no opportunity of shewing our power’) but (only) on behalf of (in furtherance of the cause and spread of) the truth. 9.
9.] For (confirmation of ver. 8 by the still stronger assertion, wherein his joy consists, and for what he prays) our joy is, when we are weak (have no opportunity for shewing our power in punishment) but ye are mighty (in Christian graces, and requiring no exercise of our authority): this (viz. that the state of the case may be as just mentioned) we also pray for, viz. your perfection (generally,—in all good things, see καταρτισμόν, Ephesians 4:12: not, as Bengel, ‘ne opus sit quenquam de corpore rescindere;’ the reference here being far more general).
10.] διὰ τοῦτο, ‘because I wish and pray for your perfection; ταῦτα, ‘this Epistle.’ ἀποτ., sharply. χρήσ., scil. ὑμῖν. See in reff. similar omissions of the dative.
βούλομαι γὰρ ἐν τοῖς γράμμασι κεῖσθαι τὴν ἀποτομίαν, ἀλλὰ μὴ ἐν τοῖς πράγμασι. Chrys., Hom. xxx. p. 649.
κατὰ τ. ἐξ. ἣν …] gives the reason why he did not wish to act ἀποτόμως,—because the power would seem to be exercised in a direction contrary to that intended by Him who gave it.
11.] General exhortations. “Severius scripserat Paulus in tractatione; nunc benignius, re tamen ipsa non dimissa.” Bengel.
καταρτ., τέλειοι γίνεσθε καὶ ἀναπληροῦτε τὰ λείποντα, Chrys., ib.: amend “yourselves,” Stanley.
παρακαλ., take comfort; a recurrence in the end of the Epistle to the spirit with which it began; see ch. 1:6, 7, and, for the need they had of comfort, ch. 7:8-13. This is better than ‘comfort (or ‘exhort’) one another,’ which would more naturally be expressed by παρακαλεῖτε ἀλλήλους, or ἑαυτούς, see 1Thessalonians 4:18; 1Thessalonians 5:11; Hebrews 3:13; also Hebrews 10:25 and note.
τὸ αὐτὸ φρ. belongs to ἀγάπη, εἰρηνεύετε to εἰρήνη.
καί, ‘and then.’
12.] Concluding greetings.
ἐν ἁγ. φιλ.] See on Romans 16:16.
οἱ ἅγ. πάντες] viz. in the place whence the Epistle was written.
13.] Concluding benediction; remarkable for the distinct recognition of the Three Persons in the Holy Trinity, and thence adopted by the Christian Church in all ages as the final blessing in her Services. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ is put first; “nam per gratiam Christi venitur ad Patris amorem.” Bengel.
κοινων. τ. ἁγ. πν.] communion,—fellowship, gen. obj.—not ‘communicatio activa,’ gen. subj.—τουτέστι τὴν μετοχὴν αὐτοῦ κ. τὴν μετάληψιν, καθʼ ἣν ἁγιαζόμεθα, τῇ ἐφʼ ἡμᾶς ἐπιφοιτήσει τοῦ παρακλήτου κοινωνοὶ αὐτοῦ γενόμενοι, καὶ πνεῦμα καὶ αὐτοί, οὐκ οὐσίᾳ, ἀλλὰ μεθέξει, ὄντες, Theophyl., and similarly Œcum. Chrys. adds, p. 652, οὕτω τὰ τῆς τριάδος ἀδιαίρετα· καὶ οὗ τοῦ πνεύματός ἐστιν ἡ κοινωνία, εὑρέθη τοῦ υἱοῦ. καὶ οὗ τοῦ υἱοῦ ἐστιν ἡ χάρις, καὶ τοῦ πατρὸς κ. τοῦ ἁγίου πνεύματος.
μετὰ πάντων ὑμῶν] “And this blessing he invokes, not on a few individuals, or on any one section of the Corinthian Church, but expressly on every portion and every individual of those with whom, throughout these two Epistles, he had so earnestly and so variously argued and contended. As in the first, so in the second Epistle, but still more emphatically, as being here his very last words, his prayer was, that this happiness might be ‘with them all’ (μετὰ πάντων ὑμῶν).” Stanley. Compare, for the same emphatic πᾶς, Romans 1:5, Romans 1:8; Romans 4:16; [16:24,] &c.: and for πᾶς following its substantive and unemphatic, ib. 8:32, 37; 1Corinthians 7:17; 1Corinthians 10:1, &c.