Ver. 1. Having, therefore, these promises, mentioned just before, that God would be a father to us, &c. let us cleanse ourselves from all filth or defilement of the flesh, and of the spirit, that is, from all kind of sins. It is not without good grounds, that S. Thomas, and the divines in the schools, tell us, that some sins, as those of impurity, gluttony, and drunkenness, may be called carnal sins, bring disorders that in a particular manner affect and defile the body: and that (though all sins whatsoever defile the soul, and when they are such as are called mortal, bring a spiritual death to the soul, by depriving her of the grace of God) other kinds of sins may be called spiritual sins, their malice and disorder affecting, and residing, as it were, in the mind or spirit of man; such are all the sins of pride, envy, idolatry, &c. Wi.
Ver. 2. Receive us.† This, according to S. Chrys. and others, is the same as what he said before, be enlarged or dilated in heart, that is, have a love, and true charity, and a zeal for us, and for the ministers of the gospel.
--- We have injured no one, &c. He perhaps hints at the ways and proceedings of the false teachers among them. Wi.
[†] V. 2. Capite nos, cwrhsate hmaV. S. Chrys. says, hom. xiv. toutesti filhsate hmaV. Others think the sense is, receive and understand the instruction I give you.
Ver. 3. I speak not this to your condemnation; he means not to condemn them in general, though some had been blameable.
--- Great is my glorying. I have great joy in the greatest part of you. Wi.
Ver. 5. Our flesh, that is, I myself, had no rest, because of the concern I was in about you, after I had written my last letter. Wi.
--- Combats without, fears within. Openly persecuted by the pagans, by the Jews, and by false brethren, I was tormented in my interior, by the apprehensions and fears I have just related to you. I was under continual apprehension, that my letter had been written in too severe a tone. I was in doubt whether the incestuous man would submit to the sentence of excommunication, and censure pronounced against him. And I said with myself, will not false teachers undo, and render fruitless all my endeavours to benefit the Church? Will not my letter alienate their minds from me? Calmet.
--- Our body had no ease, assailed with a deluge of evils from without, by the enemies of the gospel from within, by fears of new persecutions. Menochius.
Ver. 6-7, &c. God . . . . comforted us by the coming of Titus, and with the joyful news he brought me, of the submission and repentance of the incestuous man, and of the good state you are in, of your earnest desire to see me. Now I have no reason to repent, that I wrote to you pretty sharply; though my letter troubled you, through the concern you were in on account of the incestuous man, yet both his sorrow, and yours for his sake, will turn to his, and your greater advantage, with a lasting repentance, such as a true sorrow produces, when it is from God. I see the good effects, by the apology or defence you make for yourselves, by your zealous indignation,† and, as it were, revenge against sin, &c. Wi.
[†] V. 7. Desiderium, epipoqhsin. S. Chrys. says, oude epiqumian all epipoqhsin.
Ver. 9. Now I rejoice, &c. I should have been inconsolable, had my letter made you sad, without producing the salutary effect intended by it; but I now rejoice that it caused a sorrow and sadness productive of the great advantages you have reaped from it. Thus in every sentence S. Paul shews the solicitude of a father, seeking nothing but the advancement of his spiritual children. Calmet.
Ver. 10. For the sorrow, &c. Sorrow for the loss of temporal goods, such as friends, riches, honours, &c. is productive of no good effects; but on the contrary, it ruins the constitution, exciting in the soul emotions of anger, murmuring, revenge, and brooding melancholy. It moreover betrays an inordinate attachment to creatures. But sorrow for our own sins, and for those of others, sufferings which we endure for the glory of God, work penance unto salvation, which is lasting; or, as the Greek has it, worketh penance unto salvation, of which we shall never repent. For tears shed in prayer unto God are sweeter, says S. Augustine, (Ps. cxxvii.) than any pleasure that can be procured from the stage, &c. The tears of the saints are like sweet wine, which inebriate those who love God. S. Aug. Ps. lxxxiii.
--- Contrition, or a hearty sorrow for sin, and not faith alone, as some pretend, is essential to salvation.
Ver. 12. I wrote to you not on the account, &c. That is, not only on his account, or the account of his father, who suffered the injury, (by which his father seems to have been then alive) but also to demonstrate the care and solicitude I have for you. I was also overjoyed to find that Titus was so well received by you, with fear and trembling, that is, with so great respect, and submission to him. Wi.
Ver. 16. After these proofs of your charity, and the uprightness of your heart, I can reprehend and correct you, exhort and praise you, without fear of my reprehensions separating you from me, without apprehension that my recommendations will prove false, or my confidence vain; I now reckon you as persons entirely devoted to me, and whose affection towards me will never cease. Calmet. See Grotius, Estius, &c. &c.
--- I therefore rejoice, as we read in the Greek, after this trial, that you will refuse me nothing I ask of you: and this my confidence I shall shew, by asking you to contribute to the wants of the distressed brethren in Jerusalem, who have suffered so much for their religion.