2 Corinthians 13

CHAPTER XIII.

The apostle again says that this is the third time he has

purposed to come and see them; and threatens that he will, by

the power of Christ, punish every incorrigible sinner, 1-4.

Exhorts them to examine themselves, whether they be in the

faith, 5, 6.

Prays that they may do no evil, 7.

And shows how ardently he wished their complete restoration to

unity and purity, 8, 9.

Tells them for what reason he writes to them, 10.

Bids them farewell, 11,

Gives them some directions, and concludes with his apostolical

benediction, 12-14.

NOTES ON CHAP. XIII.

Verse 1. This is the third time I am coming to you.] These

words are nearly the same with those 2Co 12:14; and probably

refer to the purpose which he had twice before formed of seeing

them. But the latter clause seems to attach a different meaning

to the passage; at least so it has been understood by some learned

men.

Schoettgen thus interprets the whole: the first coming of the

apostle to Corinth was when he personally visited them, and there

founded the Christian Church. By his second coming we are to

understand his first epistle to them; and, by his being now ready

to come to them the third time, we are to understand this second

epistle, which he was then going to send them. These were the two

witnesses, and the apostle the third, which he gave to the

Corinthians concerning the truth of his own ministry, or the

falsity of the ministry of the pretended apostle.

Calmet contends that the apostle had been twice before at

Corinth, and that he now purposed to go a third time; and that

these visits were the two or three witnesses to which the apostle

appeals.

Dr. Lightfoot thinks that the two or three witnesses were

Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus, sent to assure them of his

coming. But this opinion cannot be supported.

With respect to the two or three witnesses establishing the

subject, Dr. Whitby says. "Though these words seem to be cited

from De 19:15, rather than from Mt 18:16, it being rare to find

this apostle citing any thing from the New Testament, without

calling it an ordinance of the Lord, yet it is probable that he

here alludes to the practice there prescribed for the reclaiming

of offenders. And then his first epistle being written with this

introduction: Paul an apostle, and Sosthenes; his second thus:

Paul and Timotheus; may pass for two or three witnesses; and his

presence the third time in person, to exercise his censures on

those offenders, before the body of the Church, may bear a fair

resemblance to our Lord's prescription in the above case: If thy

brother offend," &c.-So far Whitby.

See Clarke on Mt 18:16.

Verse 2. I told you before, &c.] As Calmet maintains that

Paul had already been twice at Corinth, it is well to hear his

reasons: "St. Paul came to Corinth the latter end of the year of

our Lord 52, and remained there eighteen months, Ac 18:1, &c. He

came there a second time in the year 55, but stayed only a short

time, as he had to return speedily to Ephesus, 1Co 16:7; hence it

is that St. Luke makes no mention of this second journey in the

Acts. Finally he determined to visit them a third time; as in

effect he did about the year 57. Of his second voyage to Corinth,

which is not mentioned in the Acts, he speaks expressly in this

verse."

I do not see sufficient evidence to induce me to subscribe to

this opinion of Calmet. I believe the apostle had been but once

before at Corinth; and this matter is set in a clear point of view

by Dr. Paley. See the Introduction, sec. xi.

I will not spare] I will inflict the proper punishment on

every incorrigible offender. It does appear, from all the

apostle's threatenings, that he was possessed of a miraculous

power, by which he could inflict punishment on offenders; that he

could deliver the body to Satan for the destruction of the flesh,

that the spirit might be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus,

1Co 4:21; 5:5. What he says he told them before probably relates

to 1Co 4:21:

Shall I come with a rod, &c.

Verse 3. Since ye seek a proof of Christ] The conversion of

the Corinthians was to themselves a solid proof that Christ spoke

by the apostle; and therefore he could, with great propriety, say

that this power of Christ, far from being weak, was mighty among

them.

Verse 4. For though he was crucified through weakness] It is

true Christ was crucified, and his crucifixion appeared to be the

effect of his weakness; yet even this was not so; he gave up his

life, none could take it away from him; and in his last struggle,

had he even been deficient in power, he could have had more than

twelve legions of angels to support him against the high priest's

mob, Mt 26:53; but how then could the Scripture be fulfilled?

And had he not died, how could the human race have been saved?

Yet he liveth by the power of God.] Though he appeared to be

crucified through his own weakness, yet he now liveth by the power

of God; exerting an almighty energy by which all things are

subject to him.

We also are weak in him] Because we are on Christ's side we

appear to you as weak as he did to the Jews; but it is not so,

for we live with him-under the same influence, and partaking of

the same life; manifesting by our preaching and miracles the power

of God towards you. While I do not use the rod, I appear to you

weak; I will use it, and then you shall find me to be strong.

Verse 5. Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith]

εαυτουςπειραζετε. Try yourselves; pierce your hearts; bore

yourselves throughout; try yourselves by what I have written, and

see whether ye retain the true faith of the Gospel.

Prove your own selves.] εαυτουςδοκιμαζετε. Put yourselves

to the test, as you would try gold or silver suspected of

adulteration. No more take that for Gospel which is not so, than

you would take adulterated money for sterling coin. This is a

metaphor taken from testing or assaying adulterated metals.

Know ye not your own selves] Are ye not full of wisdom and

understanding? And is it not as easy to find out a spurious faith

as it is to detect a base coin? There is an assay and touchstone

for both. If base metal be mixed with the pure you can readily

detect it; and as easily may you know that you are in the faith as

you can know that base metal is mixed with the pure. Does Jesus

Christ dwell in you? You have his Spirit, his power, his mind, if

ye be Christians; and the Spirit of Christ bears witness with your

spirit that ye are the children of God. And this is the case

except ye be reprobates; αδοκιμοι, base counterfeit coin; mongrel

Christians. This metaphor holds excellently here. They had a

Judaizing Christian among them; such, presumptively, was the false

apostle: they had received his Judaico-Christian doctrine, and

were what the prophet said of some of the Israelites in his time.

Reprobate silver, adulterated coin, shall men call them,

Jer 6:30.

And thus, when they were brought to the test, they were found

reprobate; that is, adulterated with this mixture of bad doctrine.

There is no other kind of reprobation mentioned here than that

which refers to the trial and rejection of adulterated coin; and,

by way of metaphor, to the detection of false Christianity. This

reprobation came of the people themselves: they, not God,

adulterated the pure metal. Man pollutes himself; then God

reprobates the polluted.

Verse 6. Ye shall know that we are not reprobates.] Ye have

had, and ye shall have, the fullest proof that I have preached the

true faith among you; and that God has confirmed it by his

testimony; and thus that I am proved and manifested to be what I

ought to be, and shown to be approved of God.

Verse 7. I pray to God that ye do no evil] That ye do not

persist in that course which will oblige me to use the power of

Christ, with which I am endued, to punish you. Some apply this

prayer to the apostle himself: Now I pray to God that I may do YOU

no evil-that I may not be obliged to use my apostolic rod, and

inflict evil upon you.

Not that we should appear approved] We do not wish to give

this proof that we are approved of God, by inflicting this

punishment on the transgressors.

But that ye should do that which is honest] That ye may do

that which is right and seemly, τοκαλον, though we should

be, in consequence of that, as reprobates-as persons not approved

of God; because your reformation will prevent the exercise of this

power, which would otherwise have given an awful proof that we are

approved of God.

Verse 8. For we can do nothing against the truth, but for the

truth.] As we are the apostles of God, we cannot bring to you any

false doctrine; and, as we profess to be under the influence of

God's Spirit, we cannot do any thing that is opposed to that

truth, or which might be prejudicial to it. On the contrary, what

we say and do is for that truth, to propagate and establish it.

The Gospel of Jesus is truth; and my testimony concerning it is

truth also. In my coming, and in my rod, you have nothing to

fear, if you retain and abide in this truth.

Verse 9. For we are glad, when we are weak] It will give me

indescribable pleasure that I should still appear to be poor,

despicable, and destitute of this extraordinary power with which

God has clothed me, so that you be strong in all the gifts and

graces of the Holy Spirit.

And this also we wish, even your perfection.] We cannot be

satisfied that persons, with such eminent endowments, and who have

once received the truth as it is in Jesus, should be deficient in

any of the graces that constitute the mind of Christ; such as

brotherly love, charity, harmony, unity, and order. I have given

the above paraphrase to this verse, because of the last term

καταρτισιν, which we render perfection. καταρτισις, from

κατα, intensive, and αρτιζω, to fit or adapt, signifies

the reducing of a dislocated limb to its proper place; and hence,

as Beza says on this passage: "The apostle's meaning is, that

whereas the members of the Church were all, as it were, dislocated

and out of joint, they should be joined together in love; and they

should endeavour to make perfect what was amiss among them, either

in faith or morals."

It is a metaphor, also, taken from a building; the several

stones and timbers being all put in their proper places and

situations, so that the whole building might be complete, and be a

proper habitation for the owner. The same figure, though not in

the same terms, the apostle uses, Eph 2:20-22.

The perfection or rejointing which the apostle wishes is that

which refers to the state of the Church in its fellowship, unity,

order, &c. And perfection in the soul is the same, in reference

to it, as perfection in the Church is to its order and unity. The

perfection or rejointing of the soul implies its purification, and

placing every faculty, passion, and appetite in its proper place;

so that the original order, harmony, unity, and purity of the soul

may be restored; and the whole builded up to be a habitation of

God through the Spirit, Eph 2:22.

Verse 10. Therefore I write these things] I only threaten you

now, by this epistle, to put you on your guard, and lead you to

reformation before I visit you that I may not then have to use

sharpness, αποτομια, a cutting off, employing thus my apostolical

authority to inflict punishment; a power which God has given me,

rather to be employed in your edification than in your

destruction.

Verse 11. Finally] δοιπον. All that remains for me now to

write is, to wish you all manner of happiness, and so to take my

leave.

Farewell.] A good wish, from our old mother tongue, compounded

of [Anglo-Saxon], to go, and [Anglo-Saxon], fairly, properly, or

[Anglo-Saxon], with felicity; go on prosperously! This is the

spirit of this good wish.

The Greek χαιρετε signifies nearly the same thing. χαιρω means

to be very joyous; χαιρετε, be joyous and happy, be ever

prosperous; this was among the last words which Cyrus, when dying,

spoke to his friends.

Be perfect] καταρτιζεσθε. Be compact; get into joint again;

let unity and harmony be restored.

See Clarke on 2Co 13:9.

Be of good comfort] παρακαλεισθε. Receive admonition; for

παρακαλεω signifies to admonish, beg, entreat, and also to

comfort. Receive admonition, that ye may receive comfort. If ye

take my advice, ye shall have consolation; if ye do not, ye will

have nothing but misery and wo.

Be of one mind] τοαυτοφρονειτε. Think the same; let there

be no dissensions among you. Be of the same creed, and let

disputes about that religion which should be the bond of peace for

ever subside.

Live in peace] ειρηνευετε. Cultivate peace; or, as he says

elsewhere, Follow peace, and pursue it, Heb 12:14. Cultivate a

peaceable disposition, and neither say nor do any thing which has

a tendency to irritate each other.

And the God of love and peace shall be with you.] While ye are

full of contentions, dissensions, and discord, peace can have no

place among you; and as to love, the fulfilling of the law, that

worketh no ill to its neighbour, it has necessarily taken its

flight. Love cannot live, neither exist, where there are brawls,

contentions, and divisions. And where neither peace nor love is

to be found, there God cannot be. And if HE be not there,

yourselves and the devil make the whole assembly.

Verse 12. Greet one another with a holy kiss.] Use every

means by which a good understanding may be brought about. Let the

spirit of friendship live among you, and encourage its continuance

by every friendly act. See Clarke on Ro 16:16.

Verse 13. All the saints] The Christians of Macedonia or

Philippi, from which he wrote this epistle. In the primitive

Church a saint and a Christian were the same thing; for the

Christian religion calls every man to be holy.

Verse 14. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ] All the favour

and beneficence that come from and through the Redeemer of the

world; as the LORD, the ruler and governor of all things; as

JESUS, the Saviour of all men by his passion and death; as Christ,

the distributer of all that Divine unction which enlightens,

comforts, harmonizes, and purifies the mind. May this most

exalted, glorious, and all-sufficient Saviour, be ever with you!

And the love of God] GOD, your Maker, in that infinite love

which induced him to create the world, and form man in his own

image and in his own likeness, that he might be capable of

knowing, loving, and enjoying him for ever; and God in the fullest

manifestations of that love which caused him to give his only

begotten Son, to the end that they who believe on him should not

perish, but have everlasting life. May this God of love, and this

love of God, be ever with you!

And the communion of the Holy Ghost] May that Holy Spirit,

that Divine and eternal energy which proceeds from the Father and

the Son; that heavenly fire that gives light and life, that

purifies and refines, sublimes and exalts, comforts and

invigorates, make you all partakers with himself!

κοινωνια, which we translate fellowship and communion,

signifies properly participation; having things in common;

partaking with each other. This points out the astonishing

privileges of true believers: they have communion with God's

Spirit; share in all its gifts and graces; walk in its light;

through him they have the fullest confidence that they are of God,

that he is their father and friend, and has blotted out all their

iniquities: this they know by the Spirit which he has given them.

And is it possible that a man shall be a partaker with the Holy

Ghost, and not know it! that he shall be full of light and

love, and not know it! that he shall have the spirit of

adoption, by which he can cry, Abba! Father! and yet know nothing

of his relationship to God, but by inference from indirect proofs!

In a word, that he shall have the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,

the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost with him,

and all the while know nothing certain of the grace, as to his

portion in it; feel nothing warming from the love, as to its

part in him; and nothing energetic from the communion, as to his

participation in the gifts and graces of this Divine energy! This

is all as absurd as it is impossible. Every genuine Christian,

who maintains a close walk with God, may have as full an evidence

of his acceptance with God as he has of his own existence. And

the doctrine that explains away this privilege, or softens it down

to nothing, by making the most gracious and safe state consistent

with innumerable doubts and fears and general uncertainty, is not

of God. It is a spurious gospel, which, under the show of a

voluntary humility, not only lowers, but almost annihilates, the

standard of Christianity.

This text, as well as that, Mt 3:16, 17, and that other,

Mt 28:19,

strongly marks the doctrine of the holy TRINITY. See the note on

this latter text. And had not the apostle been convinced that

there was a personality in this ever-blessed and undivided

Trinity, he could not have expressed himself thus. And had not

our Lord intended to be understood in this way, he would not have

given such a commission to his apostles, to baptize the nations in

the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.

The doctrine is the teaching of God, let men make of it what they

please. And the genuine Church of God have ever received and

understood it in this way.

Amen.] This word is wanting, as usual, in almost every MS. of

authority. Amen seems to have been anciently added at the

conclusion of books, exactly as we add the word, finis, both

merely signifying the end.

As to the inscription, it is wanting, either in whole or in

part, in almost all the ancient MSS. The principal forms in which

it exists are the following:-

To the Corinthians, the second.-The second to the Corinthians

is completed.-The second to the Corinthians is finished.-To the

Corinthians, the second, written from Philippi.-Written from

Philippi by Titus.-Written from Philippi by Titus and Luke.-By

Titus, Barnabas, and Luke.-The Second Epistle to the Corinthians

was written from Philippi of Macedonia, and sent by Titus,

SYRIAC.-The End of the Epistle. It was written from the city of

Philippi by Titus and Luke. Praise be to God for ever, ARABIC.

-In the VULGATE there is no subscription; nor in the ETHIOPIC.

-Written in Philippi of Macedonia, and sent by Titus and Luke,

COPTIC.-The Second Epistle to the Corinthians is ended; which was

written from Philippi of Macedonia, by Titus and Luke, SYR. PHILOX.

It has been often remarked that no dependence can be placed on

many of the subscriptions to the sacred books, which are found in

MSS. and versions, because those subscriptions were not written by

the authors of those books, but were afterwards added by the

transcribers or copiers, who followed either tradition or their

own judgment. It is generally allowed that this second epistle

was written from Macedonia; and probably from the city of

Philippi, in that province. See the introduction and preface to

this epistle.

Finished the correction for a new edition, Dec. 13th, 1831. A. C.

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