Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, unto the church of God which is at Corinth, with all the saints which are in all Achaia:Ch. 2 Corinthians 1:1-2. Salutation
1. by the will of God] See note on 1 Corinthians 1.
and Timothy our brother] Literally, Timothy the brother. Wiclif, Tyndale, and Cranmer render ‘brother Timotheus.’ He is called sometimes Timothy and sometimes more fully Timotheus in the A. V. So we have Luke and Lucas, Mark and Marcus. He had therefore rejoined the Apostle after his mission to Macedonia, and possibly to Corinth. See Acts 19:22 and 1 Corinthians 4:17; 1 Corinthians 16:10, and notes. Timothy’s name is also found associated with that of the Apostle in the Epistles to the Philippians, Colossians, in both those to the Thessalonians, and in that to Philemon.
with all the saints which are in all Achaia] Chrysostom remarks that it is not St Paul’s custom to address the Churches thus in circular letters, and that the two Epistles to the Corinthians, that to the Galatians (which however was addressed, see chap. 2 Corinthians 1:2, to a region, not to a city), and that to the Hebrews (if it be St Paul’s) were the only exceptions. But this statement is not exactly accurate. If the Epistle to the Ephesians be identical with the Epistle to Laodicæa (and there are many reasons for supposing it to be so—see Colossians 4:16) the Epistles to the Colossians and Ephesians must be added to the list. It is probable that Corinth was the only Christian Church of any note in Achaia, and that the few scattered Christians to be found elsewhere in that province were regarded as a part of that community. See notes on 1 Corinthians 1:2.
Achaia] We are to understand by this Hellas and the Peloponnesus, which, with Macedonia, made up the whole of Greece. Macedonia, however, was scarcely recognized by the Greeks in their best days as forming a part of their land. See Articles Achaia and Hellas in Smith’s Dictionary of Geography,
Grace be to you and peace from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.2. Grace] See note on 1 Corinthians 1:3, and below, 2 Corinthians 1:12.
be to you and peace from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ] Here, as in 1 Corinthians 1:3 (see note there), Jesus Christ is associated with the Father as the source of grace and peace.
Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort;3–14. The mutual interdependence of St Paul and the Corinthian Church
3. Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ] Two feelings rise at once in the Apostle’s mind. The first is an overwhelming gratitude for his deliverance from his distress, the second the keen sense of his entire unity of heart and soul with the Corinthian Church, and his desire to impart to them whatever blessing he had received from God. Our version follows Wiclif here, substituting, however, even for and. The other English versions have God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, save the Rhemish, which renders accurately by the God and Father, &c. See John 20:17; 1 Peter 1:3 and note on 1 Corinthians 15:24the Father of mercies] Either (1), with Chrysostom, the God Whose most inherent attribute is mercy, or (2) the source from whence all mercies proceed. But perhaps the former involves the latter, a sense, however, of which the fact that ‘mercies’ is in the plural forbids us to lose sight. Cf. Ephesians 1:17; James 1:17. Even if we regard the phrase ‘Father of mercies’ as a Hebraism, it is stronger than the expression ‘merciful Father.’ So Estius, “valde multumque misericordem et beneficum.”
and the God of all comfort] Why does St Paul say ‘the Father of mercies and the God of comfort?’ Because the term ‘Father’ implies mercy, suggesting as it does the close and affectionate relation between God and man. See the O. T. passim, and especially Psalm 103:13. Compare also ‘Our Father which art in heaven.’ God is called ‘the God of comfort’ (see next note) because it comes from Him.
comfort] This word, or the verb compounded from it, occurs ten times in this and the next four verses. In our version, which here follows Tyndale, they are rendered indifferently by comfort and consolation, a rendering which considerably lessens the force of the passage. For consolation the Rhemish substitutes exhortation, and Wiclif monestynge (i.e. admonishing) and monestid, after the Vulgate, which renders indifferently by exhortatio and consolatio here. Perhaps the best words which can be found to express the double meaning of consolation and exhortation conveyed by the Greek are encourage and encouragement. Cheer would be more appropriate still had not the noun become almost obsolete. The original sense of the English word (late Latin confortare) denotes strengthening.
Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.4. tribulation] Tribulatio, Vulgate. The word thus translated is rendered trouble in the next clause, and in the Vulgate by pressura, and is derived from a verb signifying to squeeze, press. The English word tribulation is derived from the Latin tribulo, to thresh. See Trench, Study of Words, Lect. 11.
that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble] St Paul represents affliction (1) as a school of sympathy, (2) as a school of comfort (or rather encouragement), 2 Corinthians 1:5, (3) as a school of assurance, 2 Corinthians 1:10.—Robertson.
by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God] We may observe here, as elsewhere in Scripture, that no gift is bestowed upon any one to keep to himself. If St Paul is encouraged by God, it is not only for his own sake, but that he may be able to impart to others the encouragement which he has received. See notes on First Epistle, especially on ch. 1 Corinthians 6:12, 1 Corinthians 8:13, 1 Corinthians 10:23, 1 Corinthians 14:5; 1 Corinthians 14:12. Cf. also John 15:1-17; Romans 14; 1 Corinthians 3:9; 1 Corinthians 4:7; Ephesians 4:16; Colossians 2:19.
For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ.5. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us] Rather super-abound unto us. All the principal English versions render in us, and thus many commentators have been misled. The word translated abound means to exceed, be over and above (Matthew 5:20; Matthew 14:20). Thus the meaning of the passage is that the sufferings of Christ overflow to us and that thus we are made partakers of them. See Matthew 20:22; Mark 10:38; Galatians 2:20; Hebrews 13:13. For (see notes on ch. 2 Corinthians 4:11-12) our sufferings for Christ’s sake arise from the same cause as His, namely the opposition of darkness to light, of death to the life that is imparted by Him to His members. Such passages as ch. 2 Corinthians 4:10; Colossians 1:24, carry the idea a step further, and represent Christ as suffering in His members, by virtue of His union with them. So also Matthew 25:40; Matthew 25:45; Acts 9:4; Galatians 6:17; Php 3:10.
And whether we be afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer: or whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation.6. And whether we be afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation] The same may be said of every kind of suffering endured for the cause of God and of truth. It is not merely, as in Hebrews 12:6 (Cf. Deuteronomy 8:5), that ‘whom the Lord loveth, He chasteneth’ for his own sake, but that the sufferings one man endures for a good cause are the source of profit to others. Cf. chap. 2 Corinthians 4:15-16; Ephesians 3:13; 2 Timothy 2:10.
which is effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer] Is effectual may either be translated passively (as Chrysostom and the margin of A. V.) is wrought out, or, with most commentators, as middle, works actively in you. That is either (1) consolation and safety from the power of evil are wrought in you by the endurance of suffering, or (2) that consolation (or rather encouragement) and safety from evil work themselves out by the endurance of suffering. The former gives the simpler meaning, the latter is more according to the usus loquendi of the N. T.
And our hope of you is stedfast, knowing, that as ye are partakers of the sufferings, so shall ye be also of the consolation.7. And our hope of you is stedfast] Most editors agree in placing these words before ‘or whether we be comforted,’ &c. It would seem to be their most natural place, for not only do they come awkwardly before the word ‘knowing,’ but the expression of the hope is more appropriate in reference to the endurance by the Corinthians of suffering than to their enjoyment of encouragement. The majority of the best MSS. are in favour of this arrangement of the sentence. The text is in great confusion here.
as you are partakers of the sufferings, so shall ye be also of the consolation] Literally, sharers. See 1 Corinthians 1:9, and note. Christians ‘had all things,’ even sufferings, in ‘common.’ Cf. 1 Corinthians 15:46; 1 Corinthians 15:49. Also Romans 8:17-23, ch. 2 Corinthians 4:17. The words ‘shall ye be’ are not in the original. It would be better to supply ‘are,’ the encouragement being not a promise for the future, but a present possession. Observe the way in which ye and you are used indiscriminately as the nominative in the edition of 1611. Cf. also 2 Corinthians 1:13-14. In the later editions ye has been substituted. The substitution commenced in 1661, and gradually made its way after that time. The rule that ye is used only “in questions, entreaties, and rhetorical appeals” (see Abbott’s Shaksperian Grammar, 236) does not seem to hold good here.
For we would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life:8. For we would not … have you ignorant] A favourite expression with St Paul. Cf. Romans 1:13; 1 Corinthians 10:1; 1 Corinthians 12:1; 1 Thessalonians 4:13.
of our trouble which came to us in Asia] Some have referred these expressions (1) to the tumult at Ephesus, Acts 19. Others have supposed, in consequence of the very strong expressions here, that some other trouble, a grievous sickness perhaps, is referred to, especially as St Paul says in Asia, not in Ephesus. But Dean Stanley’s remark that “here, as elsewhere, we may observe the under-statement of St Paul’s sufferings in the Acts” (see also ch. 2 Corinthians 11:24-27 and notes), suggests the inference that the tumult at Ephesus was far more serious than it would appear to be from St Luke’s account. We can hardly suppose that the mere ‘dismissal of the assembly’ by the ‘town-clerk’ entirely appeased the multitude. And it is quite possible, since St Luke’s object in the Acts was rather a vindication of St Paul’s ministry than a glorification of his person, that he omits to mention a determined attempt upon St Paul’s life made by Demetrius and the craftsmen, as afterwards (Acts 23:12-15) by the Jews at Jerusalem. For the word translated trouble here and elsewhere, see note on 2 Corinthians 1:4.
Asia] By this is meant Asia Minor. So also Acts 2:9. But it seems (see Acts 16:6) not to have included the whole peninsula usually known by that name.
pressed] Literally, weighed down. Gravati, Calvin; greved, Wiclif, whom the other English versions followed till the Rhemish, from which the A. V. appears to have borrowed its pressed. The expression conveys the idea of anxiety, but is not irreconcileable with the notion of a prolonged effort to escape those who thirsted for his life.
out of measure] Cf. for the same Greek word (though it is variously rendered in English) Romans 7:13; 1 Corinthians 12:31; Galatians 1:13, and especially ch. 2 Corinthians 4:17. Dr Plumptre remarks that the word occurs exclusively in the Epistles of this period of St Paul’s life.
despaired] This expression confirms the idea of a plot to kill the Apostle. Literally, it means that he was utterly at a loss (rathlos, Meyer) to know what to do to protect his life. See ch. 2 Corinthians 4:8, where the same word occurs.
But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead:9. sentence] The word thus translated occurs only here in the N. T. It is translated answer by Wiclif, Tyndale, and Cranmer: the word sentence having been adopted by our translators from the Geneva version. At that time, however, the word sentence had not quite the same meaning which it bears now, but had rather the force of the Latin sententia, opinion. See Acts 15:19. The word signifies not the answer itself, but rather the purport of the answer, as though the result of the Apostle’s self-questionings had been a rooted persuasion, implanted from above, that, as he says in ch. 2 Corinthians 4:12, ‘Death worketh in us, but life in you,’ a rooted persuasion, that is, of the transitoriness of the natural life, of the permanence of the new life that comes from God. Cf. 1 Corinthians 4:9, especially in the Greek.
Who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver: in whom we trust that he will yet deliver us;10. from so great a death] i.e. from so great peril of death. St Paul speaks of the liability to death as death. Cf. ch. 2 Corinthians 4:11-12. Some regard it as equivalent to ‘so terrible a death.’ Yet surely the mode of death was a matter of trifling consequence to one like St Paul. See Php 1:21-23. Also ch. 2 Corinthians 11:23.
and doth deliver] These words are wanting in many MSS.
we trust] Literally, we have hoped, i.e. with Erasmus, spem fixam habemus. The word here translated ‘trust’ is not the same as that so translated in the preceding verse.
Ye also helping together by prayer for us, that for the gift bestowed upon us by the means of many persons thanks may be given by many on our behalf.11. You also helping … by prayer for us] Cf. 1 Thessalonians 5:25; 2 Thessalonians 3:1; Hebrews 13:18; James 5:15-16. “For the right understanding of this Epistle, the identity of feeling between the Apostle and his converts must be borne in mind throughout … It is the liveliest instance of the real community of feeling introduced by Christianity into the world.”—Stanley. Cf. ch. 2 Corinthians 4:15, 2 Corinthians 9:12. Also Acts 12:5; Acts 12:11; Romans 15:30-31; Php 1:19; 2 Thessalonians 3:1-2; Philemon 1:22.
the gift] χάρισμα. See 1 Corinthians 12:4 (note).
persons] Literally, faces. The word originally, perhaps, signifies a mask. Hence it came (see note on ch. 2 Corinthians 2:10) to mean ‘face’ or ‘presence,’ and thus, as in the present passage, it comes to mean ‘person.’ But the signification face occurs in Homer.
For our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have had our conversation in the world, and more abundantly to you-ward.12. For our rejoicing is this] “It is this,” says the Apostle, “which causes such a perennial flow of joy and consolation into my heart amid all my anxieties and distresses. I can feel in my conscience that what knits us together in sympathy is a Divine and not a human bond. On my part there is the inspiration from above, on yours the verifying faculty which enables you to recognize the truth of what I deliver to you.” This seems to be the connection of thought in this and the two following verses. The connection with what precedes appears to be the conviction of the Apostle that the honesty and genuineness of his efforts to minister Christ to the Corinthians have fairly entitled him to hope for a share in their prayers.
the testimony of our conscience] Cf. 1 Corinthians 4:4. Also Acts 23:1; Acts 24:16; Romans 9:1; 1 John 3:21.
that in simplicity and godly sincerity] For simplicity the best MSS. and editors read holiness; but simplicity, i.e. singleness of purpose, seems to suit the context best. The word translated sincerity, clenness, Wiclif, purenes, Tyndale, originally signifies that which is tested by the sun’s rays, and is therefore entirely transparent. See note on 1 Corinthians 5:8. See also ch. 2 Corinthians 2:17; Php 1:10; 2 Peter 3:1. The word sincerity was adopted by our translators from the Rhemish version. The words translated godly sincerity are in the original sincerity of God, i.e. either (1) that which is His gift, comes from Him, or, (2) that which is befitting His service, as in the A. V.
not with fleshly wisdom] Literally, in. Cf. 1 Corinthians 1:17; 1 Corinthians 2:1; 1 Corinthians 2:4; 1 Corinthians 2:13. These passages shew that there existed among the Corinthians a tendency to exalt the wisdom of this world, i.e. acquirements such as those of dialectic skill and rhetoric above the spiritual enlightenment obtained by the submission of the intellect and will to the direction of God.
but by the grace of God] Literally, in the grace of God, i.e. in possession of it. The word grace, like the Latin gratia, originally signified favour, kindness. St Paul here would say that his behaviour at Corinth, to which he appeals, was the result of the favour of God to him, enabling him to shape his life in obedience to God’s commands.
we have had our conversation] This word, which is a nearly literal rendering of the Greek, is derived from two Latin words signifying to turn together, and hence from the idea of having your attention turned to a thing, being versed in it, it has the signification of a man’s ordinary conduct in life. It has come to mean in modern English interchange of thought in speech. In the Epistle to the Philippians it is twice used as the translation of ‘citizenship.’
and more abundantly to you-wards] This either refers (1) to the special proofs the Apostle had given the Corinthians of his singleness of purpose and avoidance of fleshly wisdom, or (2) to the fact that he had remained longer at Corinth, and so had additional opportunities of displaying those qualities; or it has reference perhaps (3) to his self-abnegation in refusing to receive his maintenance at the hands of his Corinthian converts. Sec 1 Corinthians 9 and ch. 2 Corinthians 9:8-10.
For we write none other things unto you, than what ye read or acknowledge; and I trust ye shall acknowledge even to the end;13. For we write none other things unto yon] i.e. for we are not writing to you about anything with which you have not had the opportunity of being fully acquainted.
than what you read or acknowledge] It is impossible to give the full sense of this passage in English. In the first place there is the play upon ἀναγινώσκετε and ἐπιγινώσκετε, after a fashion usual with St Paul, and next there is the fact that ἀναγινώσκω has a double meaning, to recognize, know accurately (as in Xen. Anab. v. viii. 6), and to read. The word translated ‘acknowledge’ signifies to know thoroughly either (1) by examination, comparison, reasoning, or (2) by intuition. Here the former idea is predominant.
As also ye have acknowledged us in part, that we are your rejoicing, even as ye also are ours in the day of the Lord Jesus.14. As also] St Paul connects “the future for which he hopes, with the past of which he knows.”—Meyer.
in part] It is here delicately hinted that the whole Corinthian Church did not acknowledge St Paul.
we are your rejoicing] Rather, ground of rejoicing. The word here rendered ‘rejoicing’ is rendered indifferently ‘boasting,’ ‘glorying,’ ‘rejoicing,’ ‘whereof to glory ‘in the A.V. See Romans 4:2; 1 Corinthians 5:6, and ch. 2 Corinthians 9:3.
even as ye also are ours] See note on 2 Corinthians 1:11. It was, moreover, the special object of the Apostle to remind the Corinthians of the identity of their interests before he proceeded to vindicate himself or to rebuke them. Some of them, he says, already recognized this truth. See also next verse. Chrysostom remarks on the humility of the Apostle in thus placing himself on a level with his converts.
in the day of the Lord Jesus] See 1 Corinthians 3:13; 1 Corinthians 4:3; 1 Corinthians 4:5 and notes.
And in this confidence I was minded to come unto you before, that ye might have a second benefit;15–24. St Paul’s reason for putting off his coming
15. And in this confidence] It was the conviction of this community of interest which made St Paul desire to visit Corinth. It was (see 2 Corinthians 1:23) the consciousness that all his converts did not realize it which made him anxious to try the effect of a letter first. See ch. 2 Corinthians 2:3, 2 Corinthians 7:8-12.
I was minded to come unto you before] i.e. before going to Macedonia.
that you might have a second benefit] Lit. grace. These words would be more intelligible had they been placed at the end of the next verse. By the ‘second benefit’ is meant the effects of the visit which the Apostle hoped to have paid to the Corinthians after his return from Macedonia. It has been explained, (1) of the favour of the Apostle’s presence, (2) of the outpouring of God’s grace or favour which St Paul, as an Apostle of Christ, had the privilege of imparting. See Romans 1:11. Tyndale, who is followed by Cranmer and the Geneva Version, renders one pleasure more. Wiclif, the (Rhemish a) secunde grace.
And to pass by you into Macedonia, and to come again out of Macedonia unto you, and of you to be brought on my way toward Judaea.16. to pass by you into Macedonia] It was probably when this resolution (which may have been announced in the lost Epistle, see 1 Corinthians 5:9) was given up, that the mission of Timothy referred to in 1 Corinthians 4:17, and in Acts 19:22 was substituted, and as still more urgent necessity arose, that of Titus, ch. 2 Corinthians 8:16-24, 2 Corinthians 12:17-18.
and of you to be brought on my way toward Judæa] The exact opposite of this was what actually took place. St Paul went through Macedonia on his way to Corinth, and returned through Macedonia, and was brought on his way toward Judæa by the Macedonian Churches. The word translated ‘brought on my way’ is used of the pecuniary and other assistance given by the Churches towards the journeys of the brethren. See Acts 15:3; Acts 20:38; Acts 21:5; Romans 15:24; 1 Corinthians 16:6; 1 Corinthians 16:11; Titus 3:13; 3 John 1:6, and note on 1 Corinthians 16:6.
When I therefore was thus minded, did I use lightness? or the things that I purpose, do I purpose according to the flesh, that with me there should be yea yea, and nay nay?17. did I use lightness?] Literally, the lightness, i.e. either the lightness with which St Paul had been reproached, or perhaps merely the abstract quality. The reproach of fickleness was cast upon the Apostle for his change of purpose. It is to be remarked that this is the only charge he is attempting to meet in this and the next six verses. One of the special features of this Epistle, according to Robertson, is its exhibition of “the way in which a Christian may defend himself when maligned or misrepresented … An uncontradicted slander is believed readily, and often for long, and meanwhile influence is crippled or lost. Conceive what might have ensued, had St Paul not met the slander against his character with denial at once! For few persons take the trouble to sift a charge which is not denied.”
according to the flesh] i.e. ‘Are they the decisions of my human will, which is subject to change through caprice, or are they decisions made according to the promptings of God’s Spirit, and, as such, removed out of the region of human inconstancy of purpose?’ Cf. Acts 19:21. See also note on ch. 2 Corinthians 5:16, and ch. 2 Corinthians 10:2-3.
that with me there should be yea yea, and nay nay] Some have rendered this (1) that with me the yea should be yea and the nay nay, as though in this last member of the sentence St Paul was shewing how impossible it was for him to be obstinate and to refuse to change his purpose for a reasonable cause. But the context is against this. Chrysostom, who adopts this view, lays the stress upon the words ‘with me,’ as though St Paul’s private and individual will were contrasted with the dictates of the Spirit, which he was bound to follow, whether they laid him open to the charge of inconsistency or not. But the best way is (2) to interpret the passage in the usual manner, and to regard the Apostle as denying that he was infirm of purpose, and as reminding the Corinthians that he had but one definite end in view which he was resolutely bent upon attaining, namely, the ministering to them the Spirit of Jesus Christ To this one purpose all minor plans and resolutions must give way. See last note on 2 Corinthians 1:19.
But as God is true, our word toward you was not yea and nay.18. But as God is true, our word toward you was not yea and nay] There was no more infirmity of purpose in the Apostle’s preaching than there is untruth, or rather, unfaithfulness in God. ‘Word’ here means speech, discourse, as in 1 Corinthians 1:5.
was not] Rather, is not, since the doctrine once preached remains ever the same. See Galatians 1:8-9.
For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us, even by me and Silvanus and Timotheus, was not yea and nay, but in him was yea.19. For the Son of God, Jesus Christ] St Paul now labours to impress the Corinthians with the weight of the commission with which he had been entrusted to them. It was nothing less than Jesus, the Promised and Anointed One, the Son of God, Whom he had preached.
was preached] Literally, proclaimed, as by a herald. The word has come usually to mean an exposition of God’s Word in the Christian congregation.
Silvanus] Called Silas in the Acts. He was sent with Paul and Barnabas, as ‘a chief man among the brethren,’ to guarantee the authenticity of the Apostolic letter which the former brought back with them from Jerusalem to Antioch after the discussion recorded in Acts 15, since, had Paul and Barnabas returned alone, their opponents might not improbably have disputed its genuineness. See Acts 15:22; Acts 15:25; Acts 15:27. He was a prophet, Acts 15:32 (see 1 Corinthians 14), and was chosen by St Paul, after his dispute with St Barnabas, as his fellow-traveller, by the advice of the Churches. Some have thought that he was the brother mentioned in ch. 2 Corinthians 8:18, 2 Corinthians 12:18. He is mentioned by St Paul with himself in the opening of each of the Epistles to the Thessalonians. He was with the Apostle at Philippi (Acts 16:19-40), at Thessalonica (Acts 17:1; Acts 17:4; Acts 17:10), at Berea (Acts 17:10), at Corinth (not at Athens, Acts 17:15, Acts 18:5). He is not mentioned again in Scripture save by St Peter in his first Epistle (ch. 2 Corinthians 5:12), in which he speaks of him as one with whom he has little personal acquaintance, but much confidence. Silas is contracted from the fuller form Silvanus as Lucas from Lucanus. The similar signification of the two words Lucas and Silvanus have led some to suppose that St Luke and St Silas were the same person. But a perusal of the narrative in Acts 16, 17, especially Acts 16:4-8; Acts 16:10-17; Acts 16:19-20, will shew that they were two distinct persons. See Alford, Prolegomena to Acts of the Apostles, for a fuller investigation of this point. We may observe that not only does St Paul, in his humility, identify himself with the Corinthians (2 Corinthians 1:14) but he takes care to associate his subordinates with him as fellow labourers in a common work. Paley, Horae Paulinae, remarks on the undesigned coincidence between this verse and Acts 18:5. The two books are not written by the same person. There is no particular stress laid on the fact of Silas and Timotheus having been with the Apostle in either book, but the reference to them slips out quite accidentally. But both declare in this accidental way that Silas and Timotheus were with the Apostle at Corinth. Such minute agreement is beyond the power of the compiler of fictitious narrative. See a fuller discussion of this subject in the Introduction.
was not yea and nay, but in him was yea] The Son of God, the subject-matter of the Gospel, was no uncertain conception, sometimes affirmed and sometimes denied. The preaching of Him was the constant affirmation of a truth, an unchangeable blessing vouchsafed in Him to mankind. For ‘in Him was yea;’ the original has the perfect, ‘in Him i.e. in God, 2 Corinthians 1:18) hath been (or become) yea.’ For in Him ‘is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.’ Numbers 23:19; James 1:17. How then could the change of purpose in His minister be ascribed to the capricious infirmity of the mere human will? Cf. also Romans 15:8; Hebrews 13:8.
For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us.20. For all the promises of God in him are yea] Literally, for how many soever the promises of God be, in Him is the yea. The Apostle here, as elsewhere, reminds us that God’s gifts depend upon His promise. Galatians 3:14-29. And this promise is an affirmative utterance, never to be withdrawn or explained away. Whatever gifts are received by the ministration of His servants are the same in their character.
and in him Amen] This may refer either (1) actively, to the ratification by God of His own promises, see Hebrews 6:12-18; Hebrews 7:20-21; Revelation 3:14; or (2) passively, to the security we may feel that His Divine Word will never fail us. But our security is ever in Him. Some editors read (with the Vulgate) ‘wherefore through him is the Amen,’ in which case the meaning would be that because God’s promises were unchangeable, they were to be depended upon.
unto the glory of God by us] i.e. through our instrumentality, because by the first preachers of the Gospel these glorious promises were made known.
Now he which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God;21. Now he which stablisheth us with you in Christ] Rather, and He, &c., as explaining the words ‘by us.’ ‘Not as though we had any power in ourselves, to do anything of ourselves (cf. ch. 2 Corinthians 3:5), but it is God who stablisheth us and Who anointed us for our great work.’ The meaning of the Greek word translated stablisheth, as of the English one by which it is rendered (derived from the Latin stabilio), is to make firm, immoveable. For ‘in Christ,’ the original has unto or upon Christ, i.e. by the faith and hope in Him which are ‘as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast,’ Hebrews 6:19; cf. 1 Corinthians 3:11. Also Matthew 16:18; Ephesians 2:20.
and hath anointed us] Observe the change of tense here from the present to the past. The Greek however is not the perfect as in the A. V., but the aorist (so Wiclif, the perfect having been introduced by Tyndale, whom the other versions follow). That is, at some indefinite time in the past God ‘anointed’ St Paul and his fellow-labourers (see Acts 10:38; and 1 John 2:20; 1 John 2:27, for the expression ‘anointed’), i.e. when He commissioned them for their task (see Acts 13:2), which was to be ‘ministers of Christ,’ the Anointed One, 1 Corinthians 4:1.
is God] From no less than Him did their commission proceed, and in Him, and in none less, were their ministerial acts done.
Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.22. Who hath also sealed us] Here again the Greek has the aorist. We must refer it here to the attestation God gave to his calling and anointing by the manifest signs of His presence with His ministers. See ch 2 Corinthians 3:1-3, 2 Corinthians 12:12. Also Romans 15:15-19; 1 Corinthians 9:2. A seal (see note on 1 Corinthians 9:2; cf. Romans 15:28) is used to attest and confirm a legal document, which, according to our present legal custom, derived from the practice of past ages, when but few were able to write their names, must be ‘sealed’ as well as ‘signed,’ before it is ‘delivered’ to another person to act upon. For the expression ‘sealed with the Spirit,’ see Ephesians 1:13; Ephesians 4:30, and also, for a similar expression, John 6:27.
and given the earnest of the Spirit] The Apostle here, as in ch. 2 Corinthians 5:5 and Ephesians 1:14, uses the Hebrew word arrhabon, which, derived from a verb signifying to plait or interweave, and thence to pledge or be security for (as in Genesis 43:9), came to have the meaning of earnest. An earnest is to be distinguished, however, from a pledge (see Robertson in loc.), in that the latter is “something different in kind, given as assurance for something else,” as in the case of the Sacraments, while the former is a part of the thing to be given, as when “a purchase is made, and part of the money paid down at once.” Schleusner translates into German by handgeld or angeld. The Hebrew word however, has also the meaning of pledge, as in Genesis 38:17-18. The word is found in the Greek and in a modified form in the Latin language, and exists to this day in the French “arrhes,” and was no doubt derived by Greeks and Latins “from the language of Phoenician traders, as tariff, cargo, are derived in English and other modern languages from Spanish traders.”—Stanley. See his whole note, and cf. Romans 8:23. Our own word earnest comes from a root signifying to run, to follow after eagerly. The use of the word in the text is due to the custom, common in all countries, of giving some pledge of being in earnest. The words ‘in earnest,’ in our sense of meaning what we say, occur early in our literature. See Chaucer, Legende of Good Women, Queen Dido, line 1301. There is a valuable note on this word in the Speaker’s Commentary on Proverbs 6:1.
Moreover I call God for a record upon my soul, that to spare you I came not as yet unto Corinth.23. I call God for a record upon my soul] Literally, to witness, as the Rhemish version. Tyndale, whom the other translators follow, has recorde. Either (1) I call God to witness against my soul, i.e. to avenge my perjury (so Calvin and Grotius; Wiclif, agens), or (2) on behalf of my soul, as appealing to God as a witness of his sincerity. See Romans 1:9; Romans 9:1; Galatians 1:20; Php 1:8; 1 Thessalonians 2:5. Also ch. 2 Corinthians 11:31. In these passages, however, the form of the expression is different. The word here translated ‘call for a record’ is not used in Scripture in a bad sense. It signifies (1) to surname, as in Matthew 10:3; (2) to appeal, as in Acts 25:11; and (3) to call upon, as in Acts 22:16; 1 Corinthians 1:2, &c. Augustine and other commentators have remarked that it is lawful for a Christian to take an oath upon a proper occasion. Cf. Matthew 26:63.
that to spare you I came not as yet unto Corinth] Though St Paul could ‘use sharpness’ if need so required he desired, as the minister of the God of love, rather to come in the ‘spirit of meekness.’
Not for that we have dominion over your faith, but are helpers of your joy: for by faith ye stand.24. Not for that we have dominion over your faith, but are helpers of your joy] Ben lordis of Wiclif, and so the other versions until the Rhemish, which characteristically renders overrule. St Paul here defines accurately his relation to his converts. What power he had—and it was considerable (see 1 Corinthians 4:21; 2 Corinthians 2:9; 2 Corinthians 7:15; 2 Corinthians 10:6; 2 Corinthians 13:2; 2 Corinthians 13:10)—was simply ministerial, to assist the free growth of the Christian life within them, one of whose foremost fruits (Galatians 5:22) was joy, the joy of the man redeemed and sanctified in Christ, a joy which could not be possessed by those who ‘hold the truth in unrighteousness’ (Romans 1:18). He had no right to place himself between their souls and God, as a necessary channel in all cases of the Divine life.
for by faith ye stand] If they are enabled to stand firm against the overrunning flood of ungodliness, it is not in dependence upon any human being, however great and noble his mission (see 2 Corinthians 1:21-22; Matthew 10:40; John 13:20; John 20:21; 1 Corinthians 7:25; 1 Corinthians 7:40; and 1 Thessalonians 4:8), but by faith in a living Lord (cf. Romans 11:20; 1 Corinthians 15:1), Who is able to save and to destroy.