12:11-21 We owe it to good men, to stand up in the defence of their reputation; and we are under special obligations to those from whom we have received benefit, especially spiritual benefit, to own them as instruments in God's hand of good to us. Here is an account of the apostle's behaviour and kind intentions; in which see the character of a faithful minister of the gospel. This was his great aim and design, to do good. Here are noticed several sins commonly found among professors of religion. Falls and misdeeds are humbling to a minister; and God sometimes takes this way to humble those who might be tempted to be lifted up. These vast verses show to what excesses the false teachers had drawn aside their deluded followers. How grievous it is that such evils should be found among professors of the gospel! Yet thus it is, and has been too often, and it was so even in the days of the apostles.
12. Truly, &c.—There is understood some such clause as this, "And yet I have not been commended by you."
in all patience, in signs, &c.—The oldest manuscripts omit "in." "Patience" is not one of the "signs," but the element IN which they were wrought: endurance of opposition which did not cause me to leave off working [Alford]. Translate, "In … patience, BY signs," &c. His mode of expression is modest, putting himself, the worker, in the background, "were wrought," not "I wrought." As the signs have not been transmitted to us, neither has the apostleship. The apostles have no literal successors (compare Ac 1:21, 22).
mighty deeds—palpable works of divine omnipotence. The silence of the apostles in fourteen Epistles, as to miracles, arises from the design of those Epistles being hortatory, not controversial. The passing allusions to miracles in seven Epistles prove that the writers were not enthusiasts to whom miracles seem the most important thing. Doctrines were with them the important matter, save when convincing adversaries. In the seven Epistles the mention of miracles is not obtrusive, but marked by a calm air of assurance, as of facts acknowledged on all hands, and therefore unnecessary to dwell on. This is a much stronger proof of their reality than if they were formally and obtrusively asserted. Signs and wonders is the regular formula of the Old Testament, which New Testament readers would necessarily understand of supernatural works. Again, in the Gospels the miracles are so inseparably and congruously tied up with the history, that you cannot deny the former without denying the latter also. And then you have a greater difficulty than ever, namely, to account for the rise of Christianity; so that the infidel has something infinitely more difficult to believe than that which he rejects, and which the Christian more rationally accepts.