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BEHOLD, this is the third time I am coming to you: In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word stand.

Ver. 1.  The third time he had made preparations to visit the Corinthians, (see c. xii. 14.) when every delinquent shall be tried as the law directs.  Deut. xix. 15.  Mat. xviii. 16.  Heb. x. 28.



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2 I have told before, and foretell, as present, and now absent, to them that sinned before, and to all the rest, that if I come again, I will not spare.

Ver. 2.  I will not spare.  Estius, Menochius, and others explain this of the censures, excommunications, &c. of the Church; whilst some are of opinion that he means temporal punishments.  But we must observe, that not unfrequently God punished, even in a sensible manner, those who by their crimes had compelled their pastors to make use of the spiritual sword.  Calmet.


3 Do you seek a proof of Christ that speaketh in me, who towards you is not weak, but is mighty in you?

Ver. 3.  Do you seek a proof?  By the Greek it signifies for you, or in your regard.  The sense is, that he has left me power enough to chastise those among you who shall deserve it, when I come.  Wi.

 

--- I do not know why you delay your conversion.  Can you doubt whether it is God who speaks to you by my mouth, who has great power among you, and who is very capable of punishing you.  V.


4 For although he was crucified through weakness, yet he liveth by the power of God. For we also are weak in him: but we shall live with him by the power of God towards you.

Ver. 4.  He was crucified through weakness.  That is, he took upon him our weak and infirm nature, in which he was made capable of suffering, and of laying down willingly his life for us on the cross.  But he liveth again by the power of God, of his divine power.

 

--- We also are weak in him, like him liable to sufferings, undergoing sufferings by his example; but we shall live with him by the power of God, of which you have also a share.  Wi.


5 Try your own selves if you be in the faith; prove ye yourselves. Know you not your own selves, that Christ Jesus is in you, unless perhaps you be reprobates?

Ver. 5.  Try your ownselves if you be in the faith.  He does not mean if they have a right Christian faith or belief, but either whether they had a saving Christian faith working in them by charity, or as S. Chrys. says, a faith that shewed itself by the gift of miracles, at that time commonly given to the first Christians.

 

--- Unless perhaps you are disapproved,†† rejected, and justly deprived of this gift, which was a proof that they were Christians, and had received the Spirit of Christ.  I judged it better to translate here disapproved, that reprobates, which in other places is often taken as opposed to the predestinate and the elect, whereas there it signifies those who were rejected, and deprived of the gifts of the spirit, particularly of that of miracles, and of those spiritual gifts granted to the first Christians, and which were a proof that they had received the grace: and the 7th verse, not that we may appear approved, but that . . . we may be as reprobates.  That is, we wish that we may have no occasion to shew the power and the gifts of the spirit, and that of miracles, but as if we were rejected, disapproved, reproved, and deprived of such proofs.  Wi.

 

[†]  V. 5.  Si estis in fide, ei este en th pistei.  S. Chrys. om. kq, p. 701, emoi dokei entauqa legein thn twn shmeiwn.  Ibid.  Nisi forte reprobi estis, adokimoi, improbati, or non probati.  The Prot. as well as Rhem., hath reprobates; but Dr. Wells, in his amendments, has put destitute of proofs, which here is the true sense.

 

[††]  V. 7. Non ut nos probati appareamus . . . nos autem ut reprobi simus, wV (not ina) adokimoi wmen, i.e. sicut or tanquam non probati simus.



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6 But I trust that you shall know that we are not reprobates.

Ver. 6-7.  I trust that we have not fallen from the state in which we were, but that we continue to exercise our ministry and to use the power which he has given us.  Though I do not wish to find you guilty of any sins which may oblige me to use this power over you.  I rather wish in this respect to have no authority whatever over you, to be as it were an outcast or reprobate, that you may never feel the power that God hath given me for the punishment of the wicked.  S. Chrys.

 

--- Reprobates.  That is, without proof, by having no occasion of shewing our power in punishing you.  Ch.


7 Now we pray God, that you may do no evil, not that we may appear approved, but that you may do that which is good, and that we may be as reprobates. 8 For we can do nothing against the truth; but for the truth. 9 For we rejoice that we are weak, and you are strong. This also we pray for, your perfection.

Ver. 9.  We rejoice that we have not made our power appear in punishing the wicked, and afflicting our enemies; we are glad that we appear to them to be weak; but we are particularly glad, when you live in such a manner as to give us no occasion of reprimanding you, or of exercising our power over you.  S. Chrys.


10 Therefore I write these things, being absent, that, being present, I may not deal more severely, according to the power which the Lord hath given me unto edification, and not unto destruction.

Ver. 10.  We write this for the edification of Christ's mystical body, and to cause all men to enter; not for its destruction, and to compel many to abandon it.


11 For the rest, brethren, rejoice, be perfect, take exhortation, be of one mind, have peace; and the God of peace and of love shall be with you.

Ver. 11.  Rejoice.  Cairete, bene valete.  In this sense the Greeks used this term at the conclusion of their writings; and Loipon, to denote that the writer or speaker was hastening to a conclusion.  P.

 

--- Be perfect.  Lit. in the Latin be exhorted.  Wi.

 

[†]  V. 11. Exhortamini, parakaleisqe, consolemini, consolationem capite.

12 Salute one another with a holy kiss. All the saints salute you.

Ver. 12.  This was customary with both Jews and Persians, as we learn from Xenophon and Herodotus, and with other oriental nations.  And in process of time, from the custom of common life, it was introduced into ecclesiastial assemblies.  The ancients were in the habit before they began their meal to embrace each other, to manifest by that sign their mutual cordiality and friendship; then they contributed their alms, that they might give a substantial proof of what was represented by their kiss of charity.  P.


13 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the charity of God, and the communication of the Holy Ghost be with you all. Amen.

Ver. 13.  For my part, I wish you, with all my heart, that the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the charity of God, and the communication of his holy Spirit, may dwell with you all.  Amen is wanted in the Greek, but was added by the Church of Corinth, which was accustomed to make this reply as often as this epistle was read.  When we recall to our mind the excess of corruption that had reigned in the city of Corinth under paganism, excess attested by profane authors, and which S. Paul brings to their recollection, (1 Cor. vi. 9.) we are all astonishment that in the short space of four years the gospel had operated amongst the faithful of this church, such a prodigious change in their manners, and that they were become capable of receiving lessons of morality so very pure as is this of the apostle.  Bergier.


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