2 Corinthians 2:17
For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ.
The expression has the idea of self-interest, and especially of petty gain, at its basis. It means literally to sell in small quantities, to retail for profit. But it was specially applied to tavern keeping, and extended to cover all the devices by which the wine-sellers in ancient times deceived their customers. Then it was used figuratively as here; and Lucian speaks of philosophers as selling the sciences, and in most cases (οἱ πολλοι a curious parallel to St. Paul), like tavern keepers "blending, adulterating, and giving bad measure." There are two separable ideas here. One is that of men qualifying the gospel, infiltrating their own ideas into the Word of God, tempering its severity, or perhaps its goodness, veiling its inexorableness, dealing in compromise. The other is that all such proceedings are faithless and dishonest because some private interest underlies them. It need not be avarice, though it is as likely to be this as anything else. A man corrupts the Word of God, makes it the stock in trade of a paltry business of his own, in many other ways than by subordinating it to the need of a livelihood. When he exercises his calling as minister for the gratification of his vanity, or when he preaches not that awful message in which life and death are bound up, but himself, his cleverness, his learning, humour, fine voice or gestures, he does so. He makes the Word minister to him, instead of being a minister of the Word; and that is the essence of the sin. It is the same if ambition be his motive, if he preaches to win disciples to himself, to gain an ascendency over souls, to become the head of a party which will bear the impress of his mind.
(J. Denney, B. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ.
WEB: For we are not as so many, peddling the word of God. But as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God, we speak in Christ.